Northwestern B.C. regional district to start recycling pick up

The new program will now cost taxpayers $200 a year

KITIMAT-STIKINE regional district residents will be introduced to a new program for garbage collection early next month with the introduction of curbside pick up and recycling.

The program, several years in the making and approved by regional district directors last month, goes into effect as of Oct. 6 for residences in the communities of Chimdemash, Usk, Gossan, Kleanza, Copperside Estates, New Remo, Old Remo, North Terrace, Thornhill, Jackpine Flats and the Lakelse Lake highway accessible areas.

Residents in the affected areas will also be charged $200 a year for the service.

That fee will take in the hiring of contract collectors and running the program and processing the material that will be collected for recycling.

Residents are being asked to use a garbage container that is no more than 121 litres in size so that it should hold two large garbage bags but be no more than 23 kilograms in weight when fully loaded.

On pick up days, all bins are to be put within six feet of the roadway before 8 a.m. Recyclables are to be stowed away in durable bags in the bin with lids fastened. Bins are to be brought back inside before 10 p.m.

The pick up service is somewhat similar to that introduced by the City of Terrace this year except that garbage is being picked up every week instead of every two weeks as is the case with the city program. That’s because of food scraps.

One big difference between the two systems is that city taxpayers aren’t being charged extra because the city has signed a contract with a provincial recycling agency called Multi-Material B.C. for the latter to pay the city $134,000 for the recyclables it collects.

There is no similar arrangement between Multi-Material B.C. and the regional district.

And although the city is having its recyclables processed at the Do Your Part recycling facility in Thornhill, the regional district will be trucking its material to a depot in Prince Rupert run by the Skeena – Queen Charlottes Regional District.

The regional district does, however, plan to have its own processing facility eventually.

The introduction of curbside garbage pick up and recycling has not been without its controversy.

Doug McLeod, elected in 2011 as the regional district director for the area to come under the new garbage pickup and recycling system, resigned at the end of August saying residents should have the choice of going to a referendum.

McLeod said he wasn’t convinced a majority of the residents wanted the service as being set up.

In general, McLeod said there was too much secrecy surrounding regional district decisions.

Gordon Gillam, who lives at Lakelse Lake, is one of the residents who doesn’t like that compulsory garbage collection is coming to residents with the added cost of $200.

He said residents didn’t get a chance to participate in that decision.

“I resent that the regional district doesn’t want to listen to anyone in the community,” said Gillam.

And he says his neighbours are also “totally frustrated.”

Gilliam says he’s quite happy with what he does now, which is take his garbage to the Thornhill dump once a week.

The use of that facility, however, is to change when a new landfill opens at Forceman Ridge.

“I just feel the public has got to be made aware,” said Gillam.

“When awareness takes place is when they get the bill and wonder what the heck it’s for,” he added about when people usually find out about new decisions in the regional district.

Many people who live at the lake are only there for three months of the year, June, July and August but they will soon get a bill for garbage collection for 12 months a year, which doesn’t make sense, he said.

The other problem with mandatory garbage pickup is if people have to haul their garbage cans out to the end of their driveways, some of which are very long, in winter this could be challenging if not impossible, because sometimes there’s a four-foot dump of snow to get through.

There’s no sidewalks or curbs out at the lake either, Gillam continued.

Gillam has lived in the area for more than 20 years says the regional district has often been secretive.

“They do not want to listen to anybody, they just want to do what they wish,” he said about the regional district board and administration. A lot of the meetings are in camera and they only tell the public what they want the public to know.”

What he wants to see are referenda on specific issues with a simple question, “Do you want it? Yes or No?”

And the residents aren’t asking for compulsory garbage pickup.

“If the people were lined up and yelling and screaming for this service, [fine], but it’s the opposite,” he said. “They don’t want any more taxes.”