A request from Campbell River to waive the tipping fee for yard waste temporarily has been rejected by the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board.
At the most recent board meeting on Jan. 14, the issue broke down along mostly regional lines, with most of the directors representing the Comox Valley municipalities and electoral areas voting for a motion to keep the fee rather than grant a waiver, while most from the Strathcona Regional District opposed. CSWM oversees waste management for the two regional district areas.
The charge is a minimum of $10 for the residents. The City of Campbell River had asked for the measure to provide some temporary relief for residents until the new organics composting facility planned for the city is open sometime in 2022. The city has been waiting for the new facility through project delays, said Andy Adams, Campbell River’s mayor and one of its SRD representatives
“By not waiving the fee, my concern is that there will be illegal dumping,” he said. “This isn’t a big dollar ask. It’s peanuts.”
According to a staff report, the request grew out of some issues from the contract between the city and Emterra last year. CSWM continued accepting materials following the closure of the city’s free yard waste drop-off site. As a result, there has been an upswing in vehicle visits and about three times the amount of yard waste, though staff add there is curbside service available in the city for much of the year.
“We have seen a significant increase in traffic in 2020 as a result of the closure of the depot in the city,” said CSWM solid waste analyst Sarah Willie, adding, “We all know 2020 was a bumper year for people being in their yards.”
She cited some operational concerns with the suggested waiving of the charge – for example, site staff would need to obtain proof of residency in Campbell River from visitors for the waiver to be applied. The fee helps pay for third-party costs and staff time. As well, there are legal questions about whether the move would favour landscaping companies in city limits over rural-based ones.
Willie also noted the vehicle traffic increase has been much higher in Campbell River than in the Comox Valley. At the Comox Valley Waste Management facility, there was only about a 16 per cent increase in traffic compared with the three-fold increase in Campbell River. Some of the difference, she added, was linked to the depot closure.
A majority of the board approved a motion to keep accepting and processing yard waste but with the current charge. As the vote was weighted, it passed with 44 out of 77 votes. Of all the SRD directors in attendance, all but Brenda Leigh of Area D voted against the motion, while Edwin Grieve of Area C was the only CVRD director to vote against the motion.