Recycling bins to stay, after all

Over 350 tonnes of recycling is collected each year at Sportsplex
and Strathcona Gardens locations

Recycling bins at Strathcona Gardens will not be removed this fall after regional district directors rejected a suggestion from their staff to eliminate the depot.

Staff from the Comox Valley Regional District, which operates the region’s solid waste function, were recommending the depot be phased out and closed effective Nov. 31.

But the board, which is made up of directors from both the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts, thought otherwise.

“The motion to keep the green bin recycling depot at Strathcona Gardens recreation complex was overwhelmingly supported by the Comox Strathcona Waste Management board,” said Koreen Gurak, manager of communications for the Comox Valley Regional District. “So the Strathcona Gardens depot will remain on site until other options are considered.”

Gurak said the board, at its Sept. 17 meeting at the Maritime Heritage Centre, discussed establishing a Multi-Material BC (MMBC) depot at the south end of the city before removing the Strathcona Gardens location, which is not an MMBC facility.

Only the Island Return-It Centre on Willow Road and the recycling depot at the Campbell River landfill are MMBC-certified centres which means they 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.

Coun. Larry Samson said at last week’s city council meeting that those depots work just fine but they’re not as convenient as the bins at Strathcona Gardens.

“It’s at the north end of town and it’s not readily available to the family who wants to do their recycling at night because they work all day,” Samson said. “They have to put the material on a cart, wheel it in and wait for someone to approach them – it’s not as handy.”

And, according to data from the Comox Valley Regional District, the bins at Strathcona Gardens – and the Sportsplex – are well-used.

The bins at the Gardens collect roughly 366 tonnes of recyclables per year while the depot at the Sportsplex takes in approximately 352 tonnes each year.

Both bins, however, have been on the chopping block over the last couple of years because of  the $149,000 annual operating cost. Of that, $36,000 is spent on clean-up due to misuse of the facility, according to Jesse Lee, manager of Comox Strathcona Waste Management operations.

“One of the most challenging issues concerning our remaining non-MMBC recycling depots is the misuse,” Lee wrote in a report to the solid waste board, in recommending closure of the Strathcona Gardens depot. “Waste is frequently left at the depots and the recycling bins are contaminated with un-recyclable items.”

Lee said garbage, hazardous waste such as chemicals, furniture and household refuse is routinely dropped off at the free recycling bins and has been a source of neighbourhood complaints.

Solid waste staff, in the spring, were therefore recommending Strathcona Gardens’ depot be closed in the fall with the Sportsplex bins being eliminated if and when the city implements a curbside recycling program for multi-family complexes.

At last week’s council meeting, however, solid waste staff said they had had a change of heart and the Sportsplex was no longer being considered for removal.