Queen Charlotte businesses lash out at recycling fee

Businesses in Queen Charlotte have expressed their frustrations with recycling fees to the Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District.

Businesses in Queen Charlotte pulled no punches in expressing their frustration with recycling fees to the Skeena — Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD), with some owners saying the trash can is now a more appealing option.

The new fee was put in place after recycling in Queen Charlotte moved from a bin system to a depot system following concerns about overflowing bins around town. However, business owners say the change has had extremely negative impacts in the community.

“I don’t think directors understood the gravity of what they approved. The biggest concern, of course, is the cost. For myself, I worked it out to $40 per week and if you multiply that by 52 weeks it works out to more than $2,000 per year … recycling is a choice, we don’t have to do it. It actually saves me money if I don’t and the costs you have put in place make it more attractive to simply throw it in the garbage,” said Jackie Wilson of the Queen Charlotte Commercial Committee in a presentation to the board on Oct. 17.

“I’m done, we can’t recycle anymore. It’s not an option and there are many of us who are out of recycling.”

Along with the increased costs of recycling, Wilson said restrictions put in place by Multi-Materials B.C. (MMBC) have made recycling a drain on both business’ money and time.

“MMBC is more expensive because you have to differentiate between commercial and residential, which is crap to put it bluntly. It goes into the same depot and is the same material,” she said.

“I have had a number recycling customers come to me and they are very, very unhappy.”

SQCRD chief administrative officer Joan Merrick, however, said that joining the MMBC program simply made sense when it was presented to the board.

“The reason for going with MMBC is because they offer a fairly significant incentive for processing what we already process and they pay for shipping the material off of Haida Gwaii, which is a big expense. In terms of a financial incentive, it was a good decision,” she said, acknowledging the program is not without its shortcomings.

“I am hoping MMBC will modify their program to meet our needs, but right now we are under contract.”

Board chair Barry Pages asked the committee to formally submit their questions and concerns to have staff report back, but some directors said the issue would be one that would be reexamined.

“There was thought put into this and there is a cost to do recycling on Haida Gwaii,” said Evan Putterill.

“We might not have gotten the balance right, but we thought we did … what isn’t going to change is that there is a cost to do this.”

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