Ongoing illegal dumping at Sicamous’ downtown recycle depot has sparked interest in municipal council looking at alternatives, including a curbside program.
At its Jan. 28 regular meeting, council received a presentation by Columbia Shuswap Regional District operations manager Darcy Mooney and environmental services team leader Ben Van Nostrand regarding recycling in the regional district.
Mooney provided some background on the process that led to the development of curbside collection programs, for recycling and garbage, in Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Golden (Sicamous had an opportunity to partner with Salmon Arm but declined). For communities without curbside programs, recyclables are collected at landfills and 18 CSRD-run depot sites throughout the regional district, including Sicamous’ at the Main Street/Highway 97A intersection.
Nostrand explained how Multi-Materials BC has since taken over the collection of recyclables, resulting in the cost of related programs being shifted from the taxpayer to industry.
“Historically, we had green bins at 18 sites… material was collected there and hauled back to Kamloops for processing. That was to the tune of about $120,000 a month,” said Van Nostrand. “That was entirely borne by taxation. All of those costs have now been transferred to MMBC.”
MMBC taking on recyclables required changes at the depots. Hours of operation were instituted and staff hired to ensure materials are being sorted.
“I think, in general, the public support has been fairly positive,” said Van Nostrand. “I’ve been talking to the fellow here in Sicamous. For the most part, people have been receptive to the new categories.”
That said, Van Nostrand confirmed there have been problems with illegal dumping at the depots, Sicamous’ included.
“I think in time, if the site doesn’t improve, then we pull the site,” said Van Nostrand. “We’re banging our heads against the wall trying to make this work.”
Coun. Jeff Mallmes pressed for more information on the curbside program that had been proposed for Salmon Arm and Sicamous (one bag of garbage for $2 a month, and unlimited recycling every second week for $8 a month).
Mooney said the council opted out of the program due to the percentage of seasonal residents who would have been on the hook year round. That was before MMBC, however. Mooney went on to explain MMBC will review its program every five years, and if Sicamous were to establish a curbside collection program for recyclables within that time, it could be absorbed by MMBC.
Shifting the conversation back to the location of the Sicamous depot, Coun. Malcolm Makayev asked if any consideration has been given to relocating the bins. Van Nostrand said the CSRD is open to discussion, understanding council’s concern with the aesthetics of the current location. Mooney, added, however, that in the past, when the bins were at the curling rink, there were even more incidents of illegal dumping and vandalism.
“What we’ve found was the more isolated it becomes, the more prone to these bins catching fire and being vandalized in other ways,” said Mooney.
Mayor Terry Rysz said he wants to see the bins moved from Main Street without question. Regarding the refuse being illegally dumped, Rysz asked if another bin could be placed at the local depot site.
“Respectfully, I don’t think that solves the issue,” replied Van Nostrand. “I go back to some of our sites, when the bins were open 24/7, people would dump the craziest things in and around (them). So if there’s another garbage bin, it’s just another excuse for someone to illegally dump, unfortunately.”
Van Nostrand pointed out how a curbside program reduces the need for the downtown depot. Detecting interest in this option, Mooney encouraged council to consider integrating with Salmon Arm’s program so as to achieve greater savings.
“Salmon Arm recycling and garbage pickup is not a five-day-a-week job, so I remember that with Sicamous combined, that would provide a full, five-day-a-week job to service both communities,” said Mooney. “And at the time, Sicamous really received the biggest win, because they could get in on the economy of scale on those larger numbers. I think there’s an opportunity.”