The Village of Telkwa council might be feeling like they’ve been jumping through hoops for nothing.
The village had been after funding through the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to establish a recycling program but continued to hit a wall. Now they’ve learned that as a municipality, it wasn’t money they were eligible to have in the first place.
The total amount of the funds, over three years, is approximately $50,000. Telkwa mayor Carman Graf has been vocal at council meetings about the funds, which has left the council frustrated after they’ve submitted and re-submitted plans.
The last proposal would have seen recycling containers set up at the Telkwa/Smithers Transfer Station. But just as the village thought they were getting close to an agreement earlier this year, regional district representatives raised the question of whether a municipality could receive the money — it was the first time the Telkwa council had heard that they might not be eligible for the funds.
At a recent Telkwa council meeting the issue resurfaced as councillors sought a new way to get the money brought into the community.
Rimas Zitkauskas suggested approaching the Telkwa Community Initiatives Society to create a proposal that would earn them some of the community money. Council moved to allow him to bring the subject up at a TCIS meeting.
There wasn’t room for council to do much else. Even CAO Kim Martinsen, during the discussion, remarked to council that, “Regardless of what scenario we tried to set up to make it work, it didn’t work.”
Area ‘’A” regional district director Stoney Stoltenberg told The Interior News that the money was never available to local governments.
“It’s money that was set aside by the regional district for recycling but it wasn’t set aside for municipalities and local government,” he said. “So they don’t qualify for that money, and they know that.”
He said he’s not sure where the confusion has come from.
“Originally this was set up to get businesses or societies into the recycle business,” he said. “I’m not one for having the government operating all these businesses. I don’t think that’s our place.”
Telkwa and Smithers both get an allotment for the funds, and Area “A” — Smithers rural — gets its own slice as well.
According to Graf the regional district had agreed to provide the town with half of the available funds, but in his words that plan also got “kiboshed.”
The money comes from a provincial grant to the Bulkley-Nechako and Kitimat-Stikine regional districts in lieu of taxes, since the districts are unable to tax the Rio Tinto Alcan Kemano hydroelectric generating facility.Last year the Bulkley-Nechako portion of that was $676,043.