A decade ago the Strathcona and Comox Valley broke up.
What had been one regional district covering much of northern Vancouver Island split into two separate regional bodies. One area where the two remain connected though has been waste management.
That could change, however, as members of the Strathcona Regional District board decided to direct staff to look at the feasibility of breaking away from Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM), which provides waste and recycling services throughout the two regions.
At issue is cost. In a short report to the rest of the SRD board, Director John MacDonald, who represents Sayward as mayor, outlined a process of what he views as an unfair tax burden on SRD residents, saying that CSWM brought out a tax of roughly $3 a few years after the two regional districts separated, despite opposition from SRD members, with the SRD membership having little recourse because it is outvoted in weighted votes. This amount has increased regularly, MacDonald writes, to where this tax amount equalled $23.65 this past year.
He also states when he started at the regional district, he was informed that solid waste management was to be self-supporting through tipping fees.
“I just think it’s outrageous,” he told the SRD board at the latest meeting on July 18. “I think we have to take a look and see if we can do it ourselves.”
MacDonald made a motion for SRD staff to study the implications of the regional district separating from the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) for solid waste management.
The CVRD has declined to comment at this time in order to let the SRD proceed with its motion.
SRD Area C Director Jim Abram reiterated McDonald’s comments about how costs have escalated regularly, even though they had been informed service was to be covered by tipping fees.
“It’s ridiculous that we’re paying the money we are,” he said. “This is killing us. This is one of the highest things on our tax bill.”
Area D Director Brenda Leigh disagreed, calling the idea “foolhardy” and saying she could not support the motion as almost all of the SRD board had agreed to the 10-year plan for solid waste being implemented.
“There’s many small communities on this board that receive benefits from the solid waste plan,” she said. “That solid waste program in the Comox Valley has the staff, the equipment, the know-how…. We need to follow through on the plan we voted for 10 years ago.”
All the board members present, other than Leigh, voted in favour of the motion.