Recycling creates heated discussion at regional district

Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s board of directors discussed expanding the region’s recycling program.

During a committee of the whole meeting of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) on Feb. 12, 2015, the board of directors discussed expanding the recycling programs in the region for 2015.

Janine Dougall, Director of Environmental Services for RDBN, prepared a report to the board of directors explaining how the extended program would work and how much it would cost.

In essence, the proposed expanded recycling program would expand the range of materials accepted for recycling within the RDBN. The total RDBN recycling expenses for 2014 were estimated at $274,121. The new expanded recycling program would require $345,771, leaving a gap of $71,650.

According to the report, there is currently insufficient funding available to implement an expanded recycling program if only the 2015 annual allocation values are utilized. In some areas of the RDBN such as Fraser Lake, there is insufficient funding available to pay for either the proposed expanded program or the existing program.

In 2014, the RDBN reduced funding to recycling groups where Multi-Material B.C. (MMBC) recycling services have been established. Therefore, funding provided to recycling groups in Smithers and Fort St. James (where MMBC is providing services) has been reduced by 40 per cent.

Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach said he thinks his town is being penalized for having a contract with MMBC.

“RDBN distributed the money fairly based on assessments among these communities, and our community took a lot of risk to bid on this contract [with MMBC]. We have a very pro-active organization in our community and we should encourage other communities to sign with MMBC,” he said.

Bill Miller, Director of Electoral Area B for the RDBN, said MMBC is not available for everybody.

“It’s not true that all communities had access to that program,” said Miller. “MMBC has limited capacity in what they will supply.”

Bachrach then asked, “How is the offer that MMBC made to other communities different than the one made to Smithers?”

Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen said he was offended by Bachrach’s statement.

“We have the same aspirations [for recycling] in our community,” said Thiessen. “But MMBC made it virtually impossible for recycling to come to Vanderhoof. When we made them an offer, they refused it.”

Eileen Benedict, Director of Electoral Area E, said the RDBN needs to make sure that every community has a certain level of service.

“I think everybody in the region is open to recycling; some people in our community have been taking their recyclables to Prince George; we just don’t have the ability [to provide more services] because we [RDBN] have not allocated funds for small communities to do it.”

Janine Dougall’s report said that if the board of directors wished to continue to fund existing recycling programs or expand the programs, the annual allocations to the various areas would need to be adjusted. The report suggested two options.

Option one said, “In those areas where the annual allocation is sufficient to cover costs of the expanded program, the annual allocations would continue the same and the communities would continue to carry forward unused allocations to future years. In those areas where the annual allocation is insufficient, the annual allocation would be increased to match the projected costs of the expanded recycling program.”

In essence, this option would provide sustainable funding for recycling programs, but would increase the overall recycling budget.

Option two said, “The RDBN board would redistribute the overall recycling budget monies to match the costs of the proposed expanded recycling programs in each area of the RDBN where MMBC is not providing recycling services. Further, any 2015 unallocated budget monies would be placed into a general recycling budget line item for future use as directed by the board of directors.”

Burns Lake has the biggest amount of unused monies from previous years – $242.990. Vanderhoof comes second with $65,813. If option two had been carried, Burns Lake’s unused monies would have been transferred to the regional district.

A motion to proceed with option two was defeated.

Toward the end of the meeting, the board of directors directed staff to go back to the drawing board and come up with a third option that would reflect reality more accurately, using current assessment values.


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