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Comox Strathcona Waste Managment supports deconstruction approach

Board sees deconstruction, or unbuilding, as alternative to building demolition
George Slomp, who operates Perspective Design Build with partner Peter Bain, is one of those working in house deconstruction — or unbuilding. Photo by Mike Chouinard

The board managing solid waste for the Comox and Strathcona regions wants less construction industry debris going to the landfill.

At the June 16 meeting, Will Cole-Hamilton, one of the Courtenay directors, brought forward a motion to have Comox Strathcona Waste Management staff take steps to encourage ways to reduce this form of waste.

“I wanted to find a way to plant a few seeds,” he said, adding he is confident about opportunities to change the current demolition practices.

RELATED STORY: Comox Strathcona wants to cut construction waste through deconstruction

The board passed his motion asking staff, that prior to a planned review of the CSWM management plan, they include construction and demolition waste information in a public outreach program for the year, provide online resources to educate the public to promote deconstruction, which promotes material reuse, over demolition and, finally, engage further with the local governments within the two regional districts CSWM serves to consider regulatory tools and other measures to reduce construction and demolition waste.

“We know that it’s the largest divertible stream,” Cole-Hamilton said.

The board, which oversees facilities such as the regional landfill and transfer stations, was sympathetic to the aim of keeping demolition waste out of landfill cells.

“The cells that we’re building are finite,” said Sean Sullivan, a Cumberland representative.

Colleen Evans, a Campbell River council representative, emphasized the opportunities for work and social procurement. She noted the development of a certification program at BCIT in deconstruction and added they should be looking at moves by Victoria to develop a policy on deconstruction, which could provide ideas for CSWM to incorporate.

The issue of deconstruction, sometimes called ‘unbuilding,’ has come before the board at past meetings, including a round table discussion a year ago that included industry members. One of the challenges cited by some, and echoed again at the latest meeting, was that the practice can be costlier than demolition and that local governments need to consider incentives.

However, Cole-Hamilton and Wendy Morin, another representative from Courtenay’s council, said they had research suggesting the practice can at least be cost-neutral or even more efficient. Morin stressed the importance of public perception and education when encouraging less wasteful practices.

“Often, people do not know what’s available or possible,” she said.

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