Signs of collateral damage rise from White Rock civic standoff

Outside the Kent Street Activity Centre Tuesday, evidence City of White Rock employees are on strike is mounting. - Tracy Holmes
Outside the Kent Street Activity Centre Tuesday, evidence City of White Rock employees are on strike is mounting.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes

Evidence that City of White Rock employees are on strike is beginning to pile up – both within the city’s borders and outside.

A mountain of waste continues to grow in the Kent Street Activity Centre parking lot, where, on Tuesday, a green bin for recyclables was both overflowing and surrounded with all manner of mess – from cardboard to household garbage to a kitchen table.

CUPE 402-01 staff manning the picket line at the centre told Peace Arch News the accumulation represents just one week’s worth of refuse – and, steps are being taken to ensure it isn’t cleaned up before an agreement is reached.

Citywide, the workers have been on the picket line full time since May 12. Garbage/recycling pickup is among the service gaps not being filled during the job action.

According to the employees outside the Kent Street centre, there have been efforts to bypass the picket lines, with collection trucks arriving at all hours of the night. But few are getting through, they said – even between 3 and 4 a.m. they’ve found a union representative there to block them.

Collateral damage of the halt in service has stretched to affect at least one South Surrey business.

Semiahmoo Bottle Depot’s Heimin Lee is appealing to White Rock citizens to stop using his 24 Avenue depot as a dumping ground.

There has been an influx of refuse dropped off since the strike went citywide, Lee said Wednesday.

The recyclables-only depot has become “kind of like a dump yard” in the last week or so, Lee said. “We’re cleaning up every day.”

Lee said he is “100 per cent sure” White Rock’s strike is behind the issue. The extra work is made even more stressful by last week’s launch of the Multi-Material B.C. system, which added printed paper and packaging to the list of  accepted items.

“We’re so crazy, crazy busy,” Lee said. “Nobody bring their garbage.”

It was not known at PAN’s Wednesday afternoon press deadline if the day’s mediated talks had brought the two sides any closer to an agreement.

Earlier this week, the employees again extended their picketing shift outside of city hall in an effort to make an impact on council members.

Unlike the picket line May 12, which remained through the evening council meeting, Monday’s pickets stayed until just after all of the politicians had arrived.

“The objective was to greet Coun. (Grant) Meyer,” CUPE 402-01 president Mike Guraliuk said Tuesday.  “Not just him, but all the councillors – we  wanted to remind them that we are here.”

Meyer was the sole councillor to miss the May 12 meeting as a result of the strike. As a unionized BC Ferries worker, he would not cross the picket line.

Monday, told again that the CUPE local would not give him a pass to cross, Meyer determined his civic duties took precedence.

“(Guraliuk) said they’re not issuing picket passes, and just kind of left it at that,” Meyer said.

Picketing employees packed up just minutes before the hour-long meeting got underway.

A similar presence greeted attendees of Tuesday evening’s unveiling of a mural added to the exterior walls of the Semiahmoo Arts building in Centennial Park.

“Not for any disruptions, just a presence,” Guraliuk said, noting he is hopeful this week’s talks make progress.

“Going into these talks, out of our bargaining committee I’ve always been the optimist – and I’ve always been wrong,” he said.

Another round is scheduled for Friday.


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