Regional District continues negotiations with RecycleBC

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George is advocating for McBride to become a principal recycling depot, and trying to arrange alternative recycling services in Dunster, according to District General Manager of Environmental Services Laura Zapotichny.

The District is also going to institute tipping fees for users who generate a large amount of recyclables once the RecycleBC contract is in effect this fall.

Zapotichny presented updates on the District’s recycling services to Valemount Council during its May 14th meeting.

The District has been negotiating a contract with RecycleBC since the board of directors accepted the company’s offer for services at its April 18th meeting. Cascades – the contractor who previously provided recycling services for the District – is ending its contract on May 31st, after which recycling for products other than cardboard will be unavailable until RecycleBC services are established.

“There will be a period of no service, there’s just no way of getting around that. We are working diligently to get our contract signed,” Zapotichny said. “Once we have the contract signed, RecycleBC has 90 days to implement their program. It is anticipated sometime in early fall … my realistic guess is October 1st.”

RecycleBC has offered to make the transfer stations at Valemount, Mackenzie, and Quinn Street into principal depots. At these facilities, RecycleBC will be responsible for providing bins, hauling recyclables to the landfill, and processing and marketing all recyclables. McBride’s recycling station will become a satellite depot, meaning the District will have to provide bins and the cost of hauling recyclables to the nearest principal depot.

The District hopes to negotiate the establishment of a principal depot at McBride, Zapotichny said.

“We’re fighting hard for McBride to be considered a principal depot, to be perfectly blunt,” she told Valemount Council. “We feel that if you take the larger McBride area that is serviced by that depot, they should qualify (based on population).”

Dunster “absolutely will never qualify” for services

Dunster will likely be hit the hardest by the lack of recycling services, according to Zapotichny. RecycleBC requires depots to have staff on-site and a way to keep bins secure when staff aren’t present – criteria which Dunster lacks.

“With Dunster not having staff, gates, fence (to secure its recycling bins), or hours (when staff are operating the service), Dunster absolutely will never qualify under the RecycleBC program,” she said. “We’re looking at how we provide service for the community – it might not be part of the RecycleBC program, but how can you provide it in a different mechanism?”

According to Zapotichny, Dunster is not the only rural transfer station in the province that is unstaffed and unfenced. The District is looking at alternative recycling services, but will have to get creative, she said.

Tipping fees to discourage large volume

Zapotichny’s presentation included an overview of the District’s new tipping fees for recyclables, which are imposed when the volume of waste being deposited is three cubic metres or greater. Tipping fees are increased each fall, according to Zapotichny – most recently, they came up to $27, but this number may be revisited in October or November if the District decides it is too high a fee.

“The intention of this tipping fee was to apply to commercially-generated high amounts of waste coming into the transfer station – it was not intended to be applied to small residential loads,” said Zapotichny. “It is a significant cost to haul bins back to Prince George, where we deposit them in the landfill. And when we were having certain individuals coming into the site with enough (waste) to fill an entire transport bin, that’s when we looked at how we could recover some of that cost.”

The District is continuing to work with transfer station attendants to communicate

“I recognize that there has been some confusion and some frustration,” Zapotichny said. “We continue to try to work through this as best we can, and we’re always available to talk to people and provide clarity.”

Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat