An open letter to the Chair and Board of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine:
I disagree with the historical review of public opinion that has been described as having occurred at the one public open house and the project updates on the waste management plan sent to the public. I would describe this type of engagement as “one way public engagement.”
The regional district review does not mention any public disagreement to the regional district’s plan, neither critical comments nor public suggestions for changes.
The entire regional district presentation and review was about only one plan and one option – the Regional District’s option. Nowhere had you mentioned the numerous letters from the public and presentations, public concerns about safety or cost, articles in our local newspaper, or the petition signed by nearly 700 constituents calling for a broad public referendum on Bylaw 640 which would bring in the waste management plan.
Instead you simply disregarded the public input or, shall I say, tossed it into the garbage, while implying that the decisions made were done so in what you called the “regional district’s interest.”
My question and that of hundreds of taxpayers is just whose interests does the regional district board and its administration represent? Your lack of acknowledgement of public opinion paints a picture of a board that considers the constituents as a witless bunch. Is this why the board doesn’t want to listen to us and feels obliged to make such decisions for us?
An email from the regional district speaks about the close cooperation with the environment ministry and the Multi-Material BC program. You claim that our community does not have a choice and has to join the provincial program.
However, there are other communities like Smithers and Duncan that have adopted a different approach and did not come up with heavy-handed bylaws of mandatory solid waste collection.
The board disregarded the petition calling for a referendum on the Bylaw 640, despite the fact that it was signed by more than 16 per cent of residents and despite pleas from our representatives, Doug McLeod and Diana Penner, who both consequently resigned.
The regional district pattern is to get rid of any opposition and continue. Any other solutions proposed by individuals or groups will be ridiculed and buried with the rest of the garbage at Forceman Ridge away from the public’s view. That includes the estimated cost of $31-$36 million over 10 years.
The alarming fact is that it will not be the board who will pay the bill but us, the taxpayers. The lack of accountability for these decisions is why the many board directors, who do not even reside in the affected area, have no problem to push these decisions on us.
Curbside collection fees are described as based on the cost provided through a tendered request for proposal and request for quote.
A regional district email states the fee “… is intended as a utility fee, rather than taxation…” Very well, if this is the case, feel free to cut me off from your service. It is my constitutional right to choose services I want or need. I do not think that the regional district can create a bylaw that secures a monopoly on a business and forces the residents to comply, especially when the bylaw is widely opposed.
Therefore I decline the service. Please remove my household from the solid waste collection and recycling service list. And if you are going to insist that even when I do not use the service I have to pay for it because the bylaw has been approved by the regional district, I will say that the Bylaw 640 is unlawful authorization that secures a monopoly on the service, and it is nothing short of money extortion from the residents.