The Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District is not extending the hours at the Prince Rupert recycling depot, at least not at the moment.
Since the regional district cut back the depot’s Saturday operating hours, recycling advocates have repeatedly come to board meetings to make the case that the board should extend them because, they say, that the reduced weekend hours makes it harder for average people who want to recycle to do so.
Every time the issue has come up, the board has said it will be looking into the issue during the budgeting process. Now that the budgeting process is over and the decision is that for the moment the depot’s weekend hours are not going to change.
To increase the operating hours of the recycling depot by an additional two hours on Saturdays would cost the regional district about $6,000, but the regional district is putting aside $21,846 for future equipment purchases. The plan is to buy equipment that will eventually allow the depot to accept people’s recyclables even when staff aren’t there.
“The mainland [waste management] committee is looking at bins that would be able to accept recycling 24 hours a day. So it would be a fenced-off area that people could get into and put things in the bins which would then be unloaded. So, its a move towards a more mechanical way of doing things. [The plan is] not fully flushed-out yet,” explains board chair Barry Pages.
Regional district staff is currently working on a proposal for how this new system would work, but the earliest it could be implemented is 2013. So in the mean-time the Saturday hours will remain the same.
Well they will unless board member Anna Ashley has anything to say about it. Before the board passed its budget, the Prince Rupert representative wanted to amend it so that $6,000 of the money being put in reserve for the new equipment could be spent instead on increasing the hours while the district works on getting the new system in place.
Ashley says she keeps hearing complaints from constituents about the depot’s weekend hours.
“A lot of people have been going out there trying to continue recycling and they’re finding harder and harder to do so. So I know that volume [of recyclables coming into the depot] hasn’t dropped off but there are a lot of people who are upset about it, so that’s where I’m coming from,” Ashley told her fellow board members.
It was quickly pointed out that even the district’s Waste Management Committee had voted against increasing the hours and it was the depot’s management who had suggested the plan they were already following. Oona River representative, Karl Bergman, advised the board against second-guessing people who had a better understanding of how best to run the depot than they do.
“My problem is, as far as I understand it, is that we have looked at this issue several times and the management out there has looked at this several times. They have said that putting this back in place doesn’t work. There’s not enough materials coming in, it costs too much to operate the facility so that two or three people can come in to dump off their garbage. So why would we second-guess the management’s position?” argued Bergman.
According to the district’s staff, there is nothing stopping the board from reallocating the money they are putting in reserve to increase the depot’s hours later if they want to. So the board decided to pass the budget as is and look at the possibility a little more thoroughly once the automation plan has been worked out and the depot’s management can be brought into the conversation.