Solid Waste Utility Bylaw Update

Update (September 2017): Council adopted the draft Solid Waste Utility Bylaw on Tuesday, September 5. View the agenda here

The District is updating its Solid Waste Utility Bylaw. Changes are being introduced to increase the diversion of recycling and organics from the landfill, and to further reduce our collective impact on the environment as we strive towards the goals of our Zero Waste Strategy.

What is changing?

1. Introduction of multi-stream separation (garbage, recycling, organics) for apartment/condo complexes, all commercial, industrial and institutional properties, events and temporary users:

  • All apartment/condominium complexes (referred to as multi-family homes or MFH), commercial, industrial and institutional properties (ICI), events and other temporary users of a premises will be required to separate garbage, organics and recyclables prior to disposal.
  • The owners/occupiers of the premises will be responsible for appropriately separating the solid waste streams prior to pick up by the waste hauler.
  • Building managers/business owners will be required to provide educational material to residents, tenants, employees and contractors on how to separate and deposit waste, organics and recyclables into appropriate three-stream receptacles and put up related signage.

2. Requirement to use clear bags for garbage, except  residents who use the curbside collection program (affects all Squamish residents who have communal waste rooms,  commercial, industrial and institutional properties, events and temporary users):

  • Garbage must be placed into totes in clear/transparent plastic bags.
  • Opaque bags (any size) may be used for garbage of sensitive nature.
  • No more than 10% of the garbage (by weight or volume) can be in opaque bags. Excluding household pet waste and diapers. 
  • There will be a grace period of 1 year, after adoption of the new Bylaw for residents to use up their existing bags and retailers to ensure they have stock of varying sizes and price points.

3. Increase in the Mixed Waste rate for garbage from a threshold of 5% to 20%. With an annual decrease in the threshold by 5% until the original 5% is reached. 

4. On-street set-out time for curbside collection:

  • Collection Containers may be unlocked and set out only between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., but must be unlocked and set out between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on curbside collection day.
  • Totes cannot be set-out the night before collection day, even if they are locked. 

5. Drop-Off Limit for Mattresses at the Landfill:

  • Only five mattresses can be brought to the Landfill at one time. 

6. Progressive Enforcement:

  • Enforcement of the Bylaw will be largely conducted by the Sustainability Coordinator.
  • Focus will be on education and working with businesses and residents
  • Bylaw infractions will be reported and property owners required to remedy them
  • Follow-up warnings, notices and then penalties will be applied to those out of compliance.
  • Enforcement Tools will include: the increase of the Mixed Waste Rate at the landfill as well as the issue of a one-time fine/penalty through spot checks and audits.


  • May 23, 2017: Staff presented the proposed key changes to the Solid Waste Bylaw.
  • May 23 - June 27, 2017: Public engagement was conducted around the proposed changes to the Solid Waste Bylaw. Following is an overview of the public engagement that was conducted: 
    • Three presentations and Q&A sessions for all businesses and institutions, direct invitations were sent via email through the business license applications;
    • Three presentations and Q&A sessions for property management companies;
    • In‐person meeting with organizations involved in Food Recovery (Squamish Helping Hands Society, the Squamish Food Bank, Vancouver Coastal Health Environmental Health Officer);
    • A Squamish Farmers' Market booth;
    • Comments and feedback were received through the District of Squamish website, emails and phone calls; and
    • Online and paper survey (copies of the physical survey were available at the Squamish Farmers' Market, Brennan Park Recreation Centre and Municipal Hall, as well as at all of the Q&A sessions).
  • July 18, 2017: Staff brought forward a draft Solid Waste Bylaw based on the feedback they received through the public engagement. Council provided comment and direction for revisions to the draft bylaw. Read the report to Council and draft amended bylaw.

  • July 25, 2017: Staff brought forward a revised draft Solid Waste Bylaw to Council; the revisions were based on the feedback provided by Council in the July 18 meeting. The draft Solid Waste Bylaw received the first three Readings by Council. Read the report to Council and the draft amended bylaw.

  • September 5, 2017: The draft Bylaw will be going in front of Council for its final (fourth) Reading. Continued input is encouraged and valued. Stay tuned for the agenda for this meeting, which will be published here the Thursday before the meeting. 


Why are these changes being proposed?

Squamish sent an average of 676 kg of waste per person to the Squamish landfill in 2016. The most recent landfill audit (2016) revealed that more than 65% of that waste going to the landfill could have been recycled or composted.

  • As approximately 55% of what ends up in the landfill is derived from ICI properties and multi-family complexes, the requirement for three-stream separation at these properties is expected to reduce this number significantly.
  • The requirement of clear plastic bags is intended to, among other things, increase participation from households or businesses that do not presently divert recyclables or organic material from the waste stream. Clear bag programs were first introduced in Canada on the East Coast in the early 2000s with high levels of success, and are receiving recognition throughout Ontario for reducing the amount of materials going into landfills.

The Squamish landfill is on track to be full by August 2017. A multi-million-dollar capital project began in early 2017 to build a wall around the south end to vertically expand the landfill. This 10-metre high wall will extend the life of the landfill by up to 10 years. However, without increasing the diversion of recycling and organics from the garbage stream, that 10-year lifespan could be reduced.

The District of Squamish developed a Zero Waste Strategy (fall 2016) to achieve an average 350 kg per person per year disposal rate with a corresponding diversion rate of 75% by 2020. The diversion rate is how much waste is diverted from the landfill, and is either recycled or composted instead.

Click here to view the District of Squamish's Zero Waste Strategy. The top four priorities of the Zero Waste Strategy are:

  1. Implement an Organics Disposal Ban
  2. Ensure recycling and organics diversion programs and services are available and convenient for everyone at home, at work and on the go
  3. Institute Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Guidelines
  4. Promote Waste Minimization

Other resources:

Please send us your comments in the box below.

Post your comment


  • Aliesha Jul 31, 2017, 3:16 PM (4 years ago)

    I still don't understand the clear garbage bags for commercial pick up and places with a strata/communal bin. The place I work for uses biodegradable garbage bags. We also recycle more than we throw in our bin. It feels like the clear bags would be a step back for the environment. Also, for the communal/strata bins, does the whole building get punished because one person doesn't comply? That doesn't seem fair.

  • Geri LoGiacco Jul 19, 2017, 5:45 AM (4 years ago)

    Your explanation of how this will be enforced under your FAQ section is vague. Will you be having Bylaw Officers spot checking peoples' curbside garbage bins?

  • Bill Darcy Jun 26, 2017, 3:17 PM (4 years ago)

    The introduction of multi-stream separation for apartments, condos and commercial properties is a good idea. Compliance penalties are problematic though. Squamish is a small town and people will get on board quite quickly on their own. Penalties enforced by "garbage police" is expected in a police state not a democracy and an over reach on the part of the local government.

    The requirement to use clear plastic bags is a fundamental invasion of privacy (even with so called privacy bags) and infringes on our basic rights and freedoms. This requirement, enforced by penalties, is an overreach by Squamish Council, not a rational and reasonable measure. While we want to encourage recycling, composting and reuse, this type of strong arm measure that infringes the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals cannot be justified by the ends. The means to reach those ends are offensive. If Squamish Council passes this, it's time for a new Mayor and Council.

  • Gwen Jun 16, 2017, 2:56 PM (4 years ago)

    I believe I posted a comment last week but don't see that it is available on the website. My question was about the clear plastic bags. Are we sure that the results of using clear plastic bags in 2000 in the East relate to our situation here? We don't put our garbage bags out on the curb, but rather we load garbage into an opaque plastic tote. Just don't understand how using a plastic bag is going to improve anything garbage-wise and because it means consuming more plastic overall it is going to make things worse.

  • Shelagh Jun 9, 2017, 7:27 PM (4 years ago)

    I use bio bags for my household garbage and instead of clear plastic which is a major concern for the environment, why not enforce bio bag use instead? Also, Squamish is growing at an exponential rate which is going to put major pressure on our garbage/recycling infrastructure so some more thought needs to go to this as well.

  • Liz Jun 8, 2017, 2:49 PM (4 years ago)

    I fully appreciate the need to get more people recycling but being instructed to put landfill waste into clear plastic bags is unbelievable. Plastic does not break down underground and will languish in landfill indefinitely. Have a serious rethink for future generations.

  • Anne Bright Jun 8, 2017, 12:04 PM (4 years ago)

    Supply the bags for free to taxpayers and perhaps. Compost bags should be supplied for free as well.

    •Priority #1 - Implement an Organics Disposal Ban. MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING
    •Priority #2 – Ensure recycling and organics diversion programs and services are available and convenient for everyone at home, at work and on the go. SUPPLY BAGS AND ASSURE BUSINESSES ARE ACTUALLY USING COMPOST AND RECYCLING (STARBUCKS!!!)
    •Priority #3 – Institute Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Guidelines (MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING - ILLEGAL DUMPING)
    •Priority #4 – Promote Waste Minimization (AGAIN, MONITOR THOSE NOT COMPLYING)

  • Ally Jun 8, 2017, 10:49 AM (4 years ago)

    Where will these clear bags come from? We will need different sizes of garbage bags available.... or else I will be dumping the contents of household opaque bags out into the clear bags and throwing the dirty opaque bags out as well - creating more garbage.

  • Dave Colwell Jun 8, 2017, 10:40 AM (4 years ago)

    Not sure what the clear bag rational is, but realize that many use the small white plastic bags they get from shopping to package their this is a form of recycling. even if it is undesirable plastic. Forcing clear bags will involve a good source but hopefully people will not have to hunt for them and pay for them as an extra..

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