In my correspondence with the Regional Directors over how they feel about the recycling options, I was struck not only by what seems to be a divide between city and rural directors, but also by the dangers of waiting to see what might happen, instead of making it happen.
The Board is faced next week with a decision about whether we get to continue sharing recycling services in the district for tin cans, milk jugs, paper and cardboard. The Board may decide not to continue offering that service – because it is supposed to be the responsibility of Multi Material BC, a new industry led stewardship program for recycling packaging and printed paper, starting May 19th. The villages and the regional district didn’t accept any of MMBC’s offers to do the recycling for them, except in Prince George. The provincial regulations allow MMBC to say they can’t provide those services to us, because they couldn’t award any contracts for our areas.
While I agree with the directors who say we need to take this fight to the Province and to MMBC for better service to rural areas, it seems to me that the city directors – who represent people who will soon have blue boxes in their driveway – are intending to use our rural communities to make a political point to the province. Their own city-dwelling electorate won’t suffer, but we will.
The Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan of 2008 was supposed to introduce curbside recycling to Prince George, and expanded depot-based recycling for all other areas of the district. The plan says “It is the intention of the RDFFG to ultimately provide full-scale recycling services for household recyclables (such as plastic, paper, cardboard and metal food cans), scrap metal and CFC-containing appliances at all staffed transfer stations and landfills.”
I’ve been told more than once that the regional district put that plan on hold four years ago, because it wanted to see what would happen with the new regulations. If it had gone ahead with that plan, maybe the district would have been a “have recycling” community that MMBC could have cherry picked. Instead, Prince George will get their blue box recycling program, and the rest of the district may lose all our drop depots at the transfer stations. And where is that recyclable material going to go? It has to go into the landfills, doesn’t it? And I wonder how much that will cost, because I know the Regional District recently upped the tipping fees. Garbage isn’t free either.
Instead of advancing our own recycling for the last four years, which could have reduced our garbage by 50 per cent, according to that 2008 Solid Waste Plan, the Regional District has been waiting. And now we are upset with the options. Maybe it’s time to stop waiting, and come up with our own options. It would be nice if recycling actually mattered to the four directors in Prince George, who seem to have control over the money decisions in our region.
Dave Wilbur, one of those city directors, told me that my community is faced with a tough decision. What he seems to fail to recognize is that he is representing the entire district – my community is HIS community. And one part of his community, the city, seems to have an easier decision.