Letter to the Editor:
Changes to the way recycling is done have left small communities in the lurch.
That the people of Valemount might be denied the opportunity to continue recycling would be a shame and an outrage. It is simply not acceptable. Provincial policy changes as they have come forward have essentially tricked us into losing our current recycling opportunities.
In advance of the decision on the MMBC offer, the RDFFG set up a committee to investigate the opportunities and risks associated with participating in that program.
That Valemount could not afford a potentially gold plated recycling service dealing directly with MMBC, with zero consideration for our remoteness and lack of population was obvious. Our CAO Anne Yanciw put together a deep analysis, working on RDFFG staff’s assessment of the opportunities. Residential recycling with MMBC is not an option when we are unable to get any sense of cost. We don’t typically agree to a contract knowing that with a pen stroke (for example, changing the location of a central drop off point), MMBC could increase the operating costs of the service with no input from us.
What was not known was what would happen if we did not participate.
Hindsight is 20/20. That PG would be offered a residential recycling opportunity was a certainty. But that by abstaining from a new drop box program offered by MMBC (with similar uncertainties to the residential program) we would kill our current service was unclear to me, and, I believe, others at the Regional District.
To be brutally honest, much of the time spent on the MMBC committee was spent fighting the change that was coming. Reviewing my own performance, I think that there were more opportunities to think long and hard about how Valemount fits into the province’s recycling future. Rather than fighting the policy changes, we might have made our way inside the tent, where we could use elbows as well as rhetoric. It takes more than fiery bluster to navigate change.
On a broader scale, overall extended producer responsibility for packaging is a smart, environmentally sound move. It’s brave of the province to take it this far and it’s awesome and essential that they do. But we also need to make sure that this government’s policy doesn’t accidentally centralize more essential services.
If we pull together as a regional district, lobby the province and MMBC, I think we can come out ahead. If other solutions are not forthcoming I will be voting in favour of funding the remainder of the recycling program, continuing to honour the Regional District Solid Waste Management Plan until next September as we have committed to do in our budget discussions. That is until we can find other solutions to the recycling issue. However, this recycling issue is also close to the heart of the senior staff of the regional district, I know they are looking for out of the box solutions to move us forward.
The unintended consequences of this program are now clear, and we need the Minister of the Environment to take a strong stand on the issues we’ve identified to her office.
Andru McCracken, Mayor of Valemount, and a Director of the Regional District of Fraser Fort George