Opinion

EDITORIAL: Garbage woes

Being responsible doesn't always pay dividends.

In the case of waste reduction, it could actually be very costly to residents of Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Regional District of Nanaimo officials gave Parksville city council a presentation last week about garbage. It seems people in this region are near the top of the list when it comes to B.C. residents who take recycling seriously. Of the 26 regional districts in the province, we're No. 2 when it comes to how much garbage we produce, stuff that actually ends up in the Church Road landfill. No. 2 as in the lowest, not the highest.

Residents here average 350 kg/year in garbage. In the Peace River region, that number soars to 850 kg/year.

Sounds good. Well done people.

But garbage, like most things, is also about economics. Because our landfills see less garbage, the RDN needs to charge a little higher for tipping fees in order to pay for the operation of  landfills, transfer stations and other solid waste programs.

The RDN charges companies who collect garbage $125/tonne to tip their trucks at landfills and transfer stations. There are dumps in Washington state, according to the RDN officials last week, that only charge $24/tonne.

What does that all mean? Well, it seems the trucking companies are starting to find it cheaper to collect garbage here and barge it to Washington state.

"We're already starting to see how materials are being shipped out of this regional district," said the RDN's Larry Gardner, who also said he expects this practice to continue and expand.

Awesome — our garbage is getting off our Island. It's someone else's problem. That's very Toronto or Vancouver of us, one might say.

There is a downside, however. If fewer and fewer trucks are tipping at RDN facilities, fewer dollars are coming into the RDN coffers for waste reduction staff and programs.

That could mean job cuts. And if the RDN believes it needs to keep staffing levels and programs at a certain level, a level no longer funded by tipping fees, where will they go for the money? The pockets of taxpayers, of course.

— Editorial by John Harding

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