Proactive approach addressing recycling needs is ‘imperative’ for city: Samson

Options being considered for what to do with the over 700 tonnes of recyclables dropped at Strathcona Gardens and Sportsplex

City council is trying to retain a recycling depot in the southern part of the city as depots at Strathcona Gardens and the Sportsplex are slated for removal.

At its Monday meeting, council directed city staff to meet with staff from the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste service, which oversees the depots, to discuss options for a permanent location in the southern portion of Campbell River.

The motion came from Coun. Larry Samson who is concerned that having the two depots removed will mean that residents who live in Willow Point will have to drive to the dump on Argonaut Road or the Island Return It Centre on Willow Street.

“When we’re looking at over 700 tonnes of recyclable material going to Strathcona Gardens and the Sportsplex, it shows the importance of having these depots and to now have it on (the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste board’s) agenda that these sites are scheduled to be closed, I think it’s imperative that we take the proactive approach and say ‘no, we need a recycling depot in the southern portion of the city,’” Samson said. “Having one at the Campbell River landfill and on Willow Street is too far and too high of an expectation that we’re all of a sudden going to transfer 700 tonnes to locations north of the city.”

According to the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste service, the Strathcona Gardens and Sportsplex recycling depots collect roughly 719 tonnes of material annually and cost approximately $149,000 to operate.

A report from Solid Waste staff said the sites are becoming more and more costly to operate because of misuse from the public.

“Garbage is routinely dropped off at the depots, including hazardous waste, furniture and household refuse,” said Jesse Lee, manager of Comox Strathcona Waste Management operations. “The abuse contributes to higher costs and neighbourhood complaints as a result of depot conditions. Unfortunately, residents use these depots as transfer stations and routinely drop off waste and other inappropriate materials. Approximately $36,000 per year is incurred cleaning up garbage left by the public.”

And Lee said with the city anticipating curbside recycling pick up for multi-family complexes, nearly all Campbell River residents should have access to recycling pick-up from their home.

Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s manager of community planning and development services, suggested in a report to council that councillors invite staff from the Comox Strathcona Waste Management service to provide an overview of issues at the two depots and update council on a survey it recently conducted of customers using the bins.

Council agreed with Zirnhelt’s suggestion and voted to have a presentation, if possible, prior to the next Comox Strathcona Solid Waste meeting on September 17.

Zirnhelt also suggested that if the solid waste district does remove the bins, that it first consult the community.

“Staff recommends that if these bins were to be removed, the (solid waste district) put in place a comprehensive communications plan to advise the public of alternative locations to take their recycling,” Zirnhelt said. “If removal of the bins proceeds, staff suggests that council request that city staff be engaged in the roll out of a communications plan.”

The Comox Strathcona Solid Waste board is expected to discuss the future of the Strathcona Gardens and Sportsplex recycling depots at its meeting on September 17 in the Comox Valley. The issue came up at a board meeting on June 11 but was put off until September.

Solid waste staff are recommending the bins at Strathcona Gardens be removed this fall and at the Sportsplex following the city’s introduction of recycling at multi-family complexes.

The Strathcona depot is proposed to go first as as Strathcona Gardens has requested rent for the space and capital improvements at the depot which would not have to be paid if the depot were closed in the near future.