Council supports Sportsplex depot

City council wants to make the recycling bins at the Sportsplex a permanent fixture

City council wants to make the recycling bins at the Sportsplex a permanent fixture.

The Comox Strathcona Solid Waste board, which is under the umbrella of the Comox Valley Regional District, has discussed keeping the depot in place for the foreseeable future but has not committed to keeping the Sportsplex as a permanent depot location.

At Monday’s council meeting, however, councillors voted to support the Sportsplex site as the recycling service centre for south Campbell River.

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s manager of community planning and development services, said the city has few options for such a facility at the southern end of town.

“Aside from the Sportsplex, the city has limited property available that would meet the needs of a recycling centre – being central, visible and easily accessible to the public,” Zirnhelt said. “The majority of the city’s properties in the south of Campbell River are located along the waterfront or are parks that would not be desirable locations for a recycling centre.”

The solid waste board, which is made up of Campbell River and Comox Valley councillors, at its Sept. 17 meeting, discussed keeping the Sportsplex location open to serve those residents who do not have access to curbside recycling.

At that time, the board recommended the Sportsplex recycling centre be improved with appropriate fencing and signage, Zirnhelt said.

City staff recommended council make a request to the solid waste service that the city be consulted on the development “of the screening and maintenance plan for the Sportsplex location.”

Staff were also recommending that council request artistic anti-graffiti wraps, similar to those the city has been applying to utility boxes, be installed on the bins.

But Coun. Larry Samson, who made the motion to support the recycling location, intentionally left that part out.

“There’s quite a history of arson and vandalism of the bins,” Samson said. “Rather than say ‘has to be wrapped,’ I’d like to see the city and regional district staff come back with different options.”

The issue of vandalism, as well as misuse of the facility, was one of the main reasons the fate of the recycling bins at both the Sportsplex and Strathcona Gardens have been up for discussion by the solid waste board in the last couple of years.

Both have been on the chopping block on the recommendation of solid waste staff, but have been saved by the elected officials from both the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts that sit on the solid waste board.

Bins at Strathcona Gardens were slated by staff to be closed effective Nov. 31 due to the $36,000 that is spent annually to remedy the abuse of the depot.

Jesse Lee, manager of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management operations, said waste is frequently left at the depots – which are free for drop off – and the recycling bins are often contaminated with un-recyclable items such as hazardous waste, furniture and household refuse.

The board, however, at its Sept. 17 meeting overwhelmingly supported keeping both recycling depots open until it can establish a Multi-Material BC (MMBC) depot at the south end of the city.

Zirnhelt said the solid waste service has been told that Multi-Material BC is not accepting additional depot locations at this point in time, but solid waste staff have indicated it will continue to explore further opportunities.

Only the Island Return-It Centre on Willow Road and the recycling depot at the Campbell River landfill are MMBC-certified centres which accept materials like styrofoam and glass which cannot be disposed of at the Strathcona Gardens and Sportsplex depots or through the city’s curbside recycling program.