Council balks at plan to nix blue bags

The Town of Osoyoos is planning — at least in the short-term — to make a stand on what it sees as a rather substantial molehill of recycled material.

Council Monday determined to share with the provincial government its frustration with a Recycle BC decision to do away in 2020 with curbside pickup of blue bags and instead require large recycling containers.

“Somehow it just doesn’t see fair. It doesn’t seem reasonable. It doesn’t seem like it’s something that I would want to participate in,” said Coun. CJ Rhodes. “We can’t just let this happen without some kind of input into it.”

Councillors expressed concerns about the burden hauling and maintaining large recycling bins would have on the community’s senior demographic but also on what Coun. Rhodes sees as yet another example of senior levels of government downloading service requirements on to the municipality.

“Downloading is not right,” he said. “We get it federally. We get it provincially. It causes us grief and it costs us money almost every time it happens.

“We need to do something; we need to make a statement.”

That statement would be a letter to the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change, which launched the not-for-profit organization ReCycle BC — then known as Multi-Material BC — in 2013 to deal with residential packaging and paper product recycling throughout the province.

ReCycle BC announced its intentions to do away with blue bags in November 2017, Jim Dinwoodie, the Town’s Director of Operational Services, told Council.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What do you prefer: blue bags or recycling containers

“It was a surprise to everyone. A lot of communities were opposed — they like the use of blue bags; they want to continue to use blue bags,” he said. “RecycleBC said we don’t care. They stuck to their guns and just left it that way.”

The Town’s frustration with the program change is compounded by an existing contract it has with Waste Connections Canada Ltd., which provides curbside collection service in the community.

“Unfortunately the Town of Osoyoos has just entered into a new five-year curbside collection contract . . . which deliberately did not include the use of containers for curbside collection,” explained Mr. Dinwoodie.

In July 2017, Council voted two-to-one — Councillors Mike Campol and Carol Youngberg were not in attendance — to continue a contract with Waste Collections for the “manual collection” of curbside garbage, recycling and large items.

The contractor had proposed uniform-sized garbage and recycling carts, which it would have provided.

“The Waste collection industry likes the egg containers because it’s less wear and tear on their employees and they’re able to do (collection) a little bit quicker,” Mr. Dinwoodie explained to Council at that July meeting.

Council was first told of ReCycle BC’s intentions this past July, when Mr. Dinwoodie reported the development — and its implications — at a Committee of the Whole meeting.

Since then, administration has received from ReCycle BC new “Statement of Work” agreements for curbside and depot collection services that reflect the program changes.

It presented those documents Monday with a recommendation council pass “a resolution accepting the agreement and providing the Town’s signing authorities the authority to sign the Statement of Work agreements with RecycleBC.”

Administration also noted the Town would have to re-negotiate with Waste Connections Canada Ltd. for the use of containers for curbside collection.

The Town last year received $73,806 from ReCycle BC to help cover the costs of collecting recyclables, an annual subsidy CAO Barry Romanko said the Town would lose if Council decided not to sign the new statements of work.

“If you chose not to become part of the RecycleBC program, they will come into your community anyway,” Mr. Romanko told Council. “They will run the program; we will lose the $79,000. You will have bins and you will not have blue bags.”

Coun. Jim King had proposed Council direct administration to get more information about the service change before moving forward with a decision — “specific to what other towns are doing, is there an option for us if we took it in house and what it would like look” — but that motion was defeated.


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