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RMG File Photo

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

Residents of the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George will be left without recycling services for at least a few months as of May 31st. Cascades, the contractor currently providing recycling services for the District, will no longer provide recycling bins for transfer stations after this date.

“We recognize the situation is not ideal, so we are working with Recycle BC to minimize the disruption for residents,” said Manager of External Relations Renee McCloskey. “If people have the ability to clean and store their recycling until service resumes, we would encourage that.”

McCloskey added that the cardboard compactor at the Valemount Regional Transfer Station will not be disrupted, so residents will still be able to recycle cardboard there.

Expanded recycling services

The District has been in talks with Recycle BC since February to organize other service options. Recycle BC has offered to establish principal collection depots at the Mackenzie Select Waste Landfill and Regional Transfer Station, Quinn Street Regional Recycling Depot and Valemount Regional Transfer Station.

At these principal depots, Recycle BC will be responsible for the provision of collection bins, the hauling of recyclables to a sorting facility, and the processing of marketing of all collected recyclables – all of which cost $75,497 last year in Valemount alone.

The principal depots will also be able to accept more recyclable materials – styrofoam, plastic, aluminum, and glass – alongside paper and cardboard.

At the April 18th Regional District board meeting, the board of directors approved an agreement with Recycle BC to establish principal depots at the aforementioned locations.

The District anticipates the depots will be operational some time this fall and by December 31st at the latest, but does not yet have a clear timeline on when they will be established. The District’s Environmental Services Administration will first work with Recycle BC to sign a Master Services Agreement and a Statement of Work, which will form the contractual relationship between the District and Recycle BC.

Additionally, the District will establish satellite depots once the principal depots are operational. Satellite depots operate similarly to principal depots, except the District will be responsible for bin provision and hauling costs to the nearest principal depot. There is no timeline available for the establishment of these depots yet. However, the McBride Regional Transfer Station has been identified as one of the high-priority sites for a satellite depot, so the District will expedite the establishment of this site. Materials collected at the McBride station will be hauled to Valemount.

Station workers waiting on updates

In a phone call with The Goat, an employee at the Valemount Regional Transfer Station, who asked not to be quoted, said the District has shared very little information about the disruptions. The employee was unaware of the change until they heard about it from other residents and were uncertain of what would be done with non-cardboard recyclables, they said. They added that workers at the station were waiting for further updates.

The Goat called the McBride Regional Transfer Station but did not receive a response.

General Manager of Environmental Services for the District, Laura Zapotichny, said the changes are still very new as they were confirmed during the Thursday board meeting, so the District is still in the process of communicating next steps to transfer station employees. However, she confirmed the station would be unable to accept recyclables other than cardboard.

The bins for multi-material recyclables currently used by the Valemount Regional Transfer Station are owned by Cascades, according to Zapotichny. This means the Station has no way to haul recyclables to sorting stations until Recycle BC provides new bins once the Valemount Station is operational as a principal collection depot.

“We understand how big of an ask that is,” Zapotichny said of the District’s suggestion that residents keep their recyclables for months. “As much as it’s difficult for me to say, if residents have to put their recyclables into the garbage [during the disruption], we do understand.”