The City of Castlegar held a public meeting Nov. 3 to explain the proposed plan for the future of solid waste and recycling collection. The meeting included a presentation by civic works director Chris Barlow, posters explaining the changes, the reasons behind them and an opportunity to ask city staff and councillors questions.
The proposed changes are the culmination of a process that has been going on for a year and a half. City staff considered over a dozen possible service combinations before deciding on the proposal they have put forward. As tipping fees for using landfills continue to go up year after year (40 per cent over the last 11 years) staff and council felt it was necessary to examine the current system and look for changes that would result in cost reductions for garbage collection and motivations to increase recycling.
The city initiated a feedback survey early in 2015. Over 400 residents responded showing that: 93 per cent agreed that waste reduction and recycling are important priorities, 77 per cent support a waste diversion goal of 50 per cent or higher (we are currently at 27 per cent), 65 per cent supported a switch to biweekly collection, 49 per cent are satisfied with the currenct recycling program since the launch of MMBC, 93 per cent supported the continuation of the current yard waste program, 80 per cent preferred access to subsidized back yard composters over curbside compost collection and 71 per cent were satisfied with the current garbage collection system.
The biggest change would be going from an every week collection to a biweekly collection. This change would also include switching to wheeled standardized carts which have been retrofitted with a bear resistant locking system. The 242-litre cans will be provided by the city. They will be emptied by an automated system, instead of manually.
According to the proposal, benefits of the biweekly system include reducing waste and increasing waste diversion by motivating the public to increase their recycling and composting efforts. Other reported benefits will be: cost savings, accurate billing, reduced GHG emissions through the reduction of collection vehicle traffic and reduced human bear conflict. Switching to biweekly waste collection seems to be a trend among municipalities. Nelson, Quesnel, Grand Forks, Squamish and most lower mainland communities have already made the switch.
The proposal also includes moving to a dual stream curbside recycling collection. Residents would be provided with two 82-litre blue boxes, one for paper and cardboard and one for plastic and tin containers. If a resident has more recycling than will fit into the blue boxes, they can set out additional recycling in owner supplied blue boxes. It is also proposed that curbside glass collection be eliminated in favour of a depot where glass can be dropped off.
The proposal states that benefits of the recycling program would include eliminating the need for non-recyclable plastic recycling bags, financial incentives through the MMBC program as they offer a higher incentive to communities that separate paper from containers and the reduction of costs from the elimination of curbside glass collection.
Civic works director Chris Barlow reported that the curb side glass recycling program was not very popular, was inefficient and costly.
No change is proposed for current yard waste services. The city will continue to offer twice-annual curbside collection and continue to maintain the yard waste compost facility behind the Castlegar Community Complex.
In order to promote backyard composting, subsidized composters will be available to interested residents in 2016. To support backyard composting, an education campaign focused on composting in bear country will be implemented. In addition, the city will continue to support RDCK’s efforts to start a regional organics collection and composting program.
Residents can give feedback on the proposed plan through a link on the city’s website, www.castlegar.ca or in person at city hall through Nov. 13.
If city council approves the new proposal, Castlegar will likely see a roll out of the changes in early spring 2016.