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RMG file photo

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

The Regional District of Fraser Fort George says it had to prioritize solid waste management over recycling after Cascades Recovery Inc. informed the District it didn’t want to continue multiple waste management contracts last May. The District is currently working out a contract with Recycle BC, but anticipates a three- to four-month period where RDFFG residents will not have recycling services.

In an interview with the Goat, the District’s General Manager of Environmental Services, Laura Zapotichny, said Cascades – the company providing solid waste management and recycling services to the District – began working with RDFFG Environmental Services last summer to phase out its services for the District. In September, Zapotichny approached the District board of directors to begin working on alternative solutions.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to argue that the timing is great,”

– Laura Zapotichny, RDFFG General Manager of Environmental Services

Cascades’ recycling contract with the District is just one of seven District-Cascades contracts that are ending, Zapotichny said. Five of the other contracts are for Cascades’ solid waste hauling services, plus one caretaking contract that obligates Cascades to staff a transfer station.

Since receiving news that Cascades was ending its contracts, most of the District’s efforts have been focused on finding new contractors to haul solid waste, according to Zapotichny.

“The essential service that we provide is solid waste collection. That’s what we have to manage first,” Zapotichny said. “We approached our board in September to put out a bid for contracts for those transfer stations […] and then we were able to work on executing those contracts in the fall, which was a significant amount of work for us.”

The District board of directors turned its attention to recycling services in February, when it directed Environmental Services to look into establishing a contract with Recycle BC.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to argue that the timing is great. If I’d had an extra year, I could have […] phased out Cascades, but unfortunately, the timing didn’t work for us,” said Zapotichny.

The District hopes to have recycling back in place by this fall. Once Recycle BC is up and running in the area, residents will be able to recycle flexible plastics, styrofoam, and glass, whereas the previous service only covered paper, plastic containers, tin cans, milk jugs and cardboard.

What to expect in Valemount and McBride

Zapotichny said she does not anticipate more littering due to a lack of recycling services.

“Residents of the Robson Valley […] they tend to be the ones who want to see expanded recycling programs […] they value keeping [natural areas] clean,” she said. “I haven’t seen a lot of pushback from Robson Valley residents.”

Cardboard recycling will still be available in Valemount throughout the disruption. Zapotichny previously told the Goat that the District hopes residents will clean and store their non-cardboard recyclables during the disruption. If that is not possible, residents may include recyclables in their garbage, she said.

In a phone call with the Goat, Valemount CAO Anne Yanciw said the Village will monitor the situation and change garbage pickup services if necessary.

The Village may increase its staffing, implement increased use fees for garbage, or pick up garbage more frequently, Yanciw said. Significant changes to garbage service such as these would be brought to Council for approval.

“It’s hard to say how much will change over the summer,” Yanciw said. “We don’t want to implement changes that have a really significant impact for just a temporary matter.”

In an email to the Goat, McBride CAO Jeanette McDougall said the Village is considering “various options” with regards to expanding garbage pickup services during the disruption. She added that updates will be communicated to residents as they become available.

McDougall did not respond to the Goat’s follow-up questions asking which options Council is considering.