No mandatory recycling backlash from multi-family building owners

The city is moving forward with mandatory recycling programs for all multi-family buildings.

Council, at its Monday meeting, gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment that will require multi-family complexes to have recycling in place by Dec. 31. The bylaw will apply to all apartments and strata complexes occupied by more than four families.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, said each building owner or strata council of a multi-family building should have received letters and information packages from the city on how to implement recycling services.

“I’m not aware of any appreciable feedback that we received to date,” Neufeld said.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield said his only concern with implementing the program would be backlash from affected building owners and so far that hasn’t happened.

“I haven’t heard any negatives responses from anybody on this one,” Cornfield said. “In fact, a lot have been supportive.”

Mayor Andy Adams said he too has found that recycling is something multi-family complexes want and, with Multi Material BC (MMBC) now accepting multi-family buildings into its program, this is the time for the city to encourage those facilities to take advantage of the financial incentives MMBC is offering. Under the program, MMBC will provide between $17 and $20 per unit per year to cover basic weekly recycling services for buildings that sign up with the MMBC recycling program.

“The majority of feedback I’ve heard has been very supportive in getting diversion of our apartments and multi-family facilities,” Adams said. “It has been asked for for many years.”

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s general manager of community planning and development services, said that getting the city’s multi-family buildings on a recycling program is one of the actions of the Regional Solid Waste Management Plan that, among other things, guides the communities within the Strathcona and Comox Valley regional districts on how to divert materials from the landfill. The plan has an objective of working towards 70 per cent waste diversion.

But Coun. Larry Samson said he had too many concerns to support making it mandatory for multi-family buildings to sign on to recycling.

“Do they have room to hold these bins and also, what happens if the product is contaminated? We know MMBC has a three per cent tolerance for contamination so what’s the cost if contamination exceeds the three per cent?” Samson questioned. “Other concerns are, we have I believe 100 sites, but how many units? What happens if the units don’t produce the tonnage or the kilograms that Emterra or MMBC is going to want to make it a success? Because they do rely on quantity of the material to make it successful.

“I’d rather see us bring it in as a voluntary thing and grow into it.”

But Adams said he was confident the program will be successful and consultation with the affected multi-family buildings will be extensive in order to prepare them for successful implementation.

Zirnhelt said if the buildings sign up with an MMBC approved collector, they will receive the service “at a low rate or free of charge, as MMBC pays collectors directly for the service.”

Zirnhelt said to date, Sun Coast and Emterra are the qualified collectors for this area as they have signed agreements with MMBC and are already collecting from 16 multi-family buildings in the community.