Recycling bins

City wants all multi-family complexes to have a recycling program in place by the end of 2016

All multi-family residential complexes must have a recycling program in place by the end of the year, city council decided at its Monday meeting.

Council directed city staff to make that bylaw change but not all councillors were on board.

Coun. Larry Samson said he didn’t agree with forcing something on the building owners and strata councils.

“I would rather work with multi-residentials to implement a plan where they can be self-sufficient with recycling, rather than forcing them,” Samson said. “We want to use force as a last resort. I think there’s a lot of work we have to do first before we just amend the bylaw and say ‘guess what, guys? In eight months you will be compliant.’”

But Mayor Andy Adams said multi-family complexes, which currently contract out their recycling pick up, have been asking for recycling services.

“At the time we implemented the blue box curbside recycling, we were hoping we would get to this and that was in conversation with multi-family residential places that were actually asking for it,” Adams said. “This is an incentive program that is going to help them expedite separating regular landfill waste from recycling.”

All incentives would be provided by Multi-Material BC (MMBC) which also provides funding towards the city’s curbside recycling program for residential homes.

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s community planning and development services manager, said that means multi-family buildings could receive recycling services through an MMBC-approved collector (either Sun Coast or Emterra in Campbell River) at a greatly reduced rate from what they’re paying their private contractor.

“The financial incentives MMBC offers to contractors for multi-family recycling collection range from $17 to $20 per household per year and are intended to cover basic weekly recycling service,” Zirnhelt said. “If they sign up for recycling with an MMBC-approved collector, all multi-family buildings will receive the service at a low rate or free of charge, as MMBC pays collectors directly for the service.”

Zirnhelt said because of the financial incentive, city staff would like to see all multi-family buildings signed onto a recycling program by Dec. 31 of this year.

But Samson said while he agreed that a program for multi-family has been a long time coming, he wanted to see more engagement first, comparing the situation to when council cracked down on the amount of garbage residents are allowed to leave on the curbside for pick up.

“If we remember, some years ago, when we went to the one garbage pail and the outcry from the community was huge when it was misunderstood what constitutes a garbage can,” he said.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations, assured council that because a bylaw amendment still needs to be drafted – and that draft would need to go through three readings before adoption – there will be plenty of time for staff to engage with the multi-family buildings. He said council will also have the latitude to make changes to the proposed amendment depending on the reaction from multi-family buildings.

That seemed to satisfy council.

“So we’ve made our concerns about engagement known,” Coun. Charlie Cornfield said.

Council then proceeded to direct staff to draft the bylaw amendment and to contact all multi-family building owners to notify them of the proposed change. Samson was the lone councillor opposed.

According to a city staff report, there are 57 multi-family buildings in the city. If the proposed bylaw change is eventually approved, all of these buildings would be required to offer recycling services to their residents by Dec. 31 of this year.

MMBC announced in August 2015 that it will now accept multi-family buildings – which includes apartments, condos and strata buildings that collect their recycling from a central area – into its program.