United Boulevard Recycling and Waste Centre

Owner: Metro Vancouver  |  Coquitlam, BC


About the Project

The new United Boulevard Recycling and Waste Centre replaces an existing facility 1 km away. Morrison Hershfield was the prime consultant for this innovative and sustainable facility that will play an important role in Metro Vancouver’s efforts to reach its diversion goals and move to a circular economy.

The new recycling and waste centre sits on a 6.2-hectare brownfield site on the former Coquitlam Landfill at 995 United Boulevard in Coquitlam, BC. Unique challenges were overcome in terms of subsidence, methane emissions and leachate management. This project implemented innovative architectural, geotechnical, structural, mechanical, electrical, landfill gas, landfill cover, civil engineering and landscaping methodologies allowing for the safe and reliable development of this large structure on a closed landfill site. An example of sustainable innovation in this project is the use of over 40,000 tonnes of incinerator bottom ash as structural fill.

The steel superstructure is the size of nearly four hockey rinks, featuring a remarkable clear span of 71.4 metres (234 ft) X 98.5 metres. The clear span provides for operational flexibility and maneuverability. The transfer building has a 5,800 m2 flat tipping floor with three material chutes, a below grade compactor, and a maintenance garage. The facility features free recycling area access ahead of the scales. The site also includes an administration building, two scale houses, six scales, a recycling attendant booth, and number of green infrastructure elements. There are dedicated traffic lanes for large and small vehicles and a dedicated service vehicle access to maximize user safety. The project also incorporates a landfill closure system, landfill gas collection, and local street upgrades.

The engineering solutions addressed geotechnical, structural and environmental challenges such as differential settlement, landfill gas hazards, leachate control, and contaminated materials management.


Geotechnical Complexity: Municipal waste and compressible soil restricted site layout, grading and structural design. Modeling the geological profile provided parameters for settlement and seismic design. A mat foundation supports the transfer building instead of piled foundations, eliminating complications related to penetrating the base of the landfill. Buildings are designed to accommodate differential settlement. The pre-fab metal building has flexible utility connections and rests on the slab-on-grade concrete foundation to resist twisting and cracking. Site grades avoid significant excavation depths into the municipal waste and grading fill heights that trigger significant settlement.

Effective reuse of waste: Used bottom ash from a waste to energy facility to construct ground features, including additional sub-base for the foundation. Wastewater biosolids are used as a growing medium for vegetated areas.

Landfill gas: Managed by an active gas management system, utility “boots” for slab penetrations and a liquid membrane beneath the building slabs. The raft foundations sit well above the MSW and allow easier application of membranes to prevent methane gas from accessing the building. Buildings are monitored for methane.

Leachate: Sealed site to prevent water from infiltrating the municipal waste and leaching contaminated water into the stormwater. Site is covered with an impermeable geomembrane barrier, asphalt or concrete and meet the BC Landfill Closure Criteria.


The United Boulevard Recycling and Waste Centre is one of the most comprehensive solid waste facilities in North America. It demonstrates that large structures can be successfully developed on challenging closed landfill sites using advance structural, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering solutions. Underutilized brownfield land was transformed into an asset for the community, with far-reaching environmental benefits.

Service(s) Provided
Functional Design
Preliminary Design
Detailed Design
Environmental sustainability design
Construction Administration
Engineering services

Project Team (Consultants)
EBB Environmental
Robert Furlong Fire
Watson & Barnard

Project Team (Contractors)
Stuart Olson


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