Recycling Depot Being Reconsidered
Rossland’s newly elected council held their inaugural meeting this past Monday night, getting together formally for the first time. Running through a short agenda, issues from the past council were recycled both literally and figuratively.
During the September 9th meeting of the previous council it was decided to send a letter to the Regional District informing them that Rossland would be phasing out the recycling depot and moving strictly to curb-side pickup. The decision was ultimately made to end recycling depot operations as of November 30th.
Spurring on this discussion and decision was the closing of the old recycling depot location at the head of the Cascade Highway and the subsequent moving of the site to the Rossland Arena parking lot. There were a number of complaints from residents in the area around the noise generated at the site, and discussions over issues such as high snow removal costs.
One reason cited numerous times by the previous council during the discussions was that Rossland was paying twice for its recycling services in having the depot in addition to curb-side recycling pickup.
Following this decision and throughout the process, Rossland business owners in the area made their voices heard, airing concerns that they don’t have a garbage or recycling pickup service and that removing the recycling depot would potentially add extra monetary and time costs to the detriment of their business if they had to drive down to Trail’s depot to drop off recycling.
Making a motion on Monday night, Jill Spearn, a member of the previous council that decided to remove the depot, made a motion for the regional council to reconsider the removal of the depot until the new council can look at the options available.
“I put a motion forward to reconsider and re-establish the recycling depot contingent on a site being available that we could agree upon. Also in that motion was to have further, or open up the discussion with the regional district about retaining the recycling depot somewhere in Rossland,” said Spearn. “I voted against the actual closing of the depot on November 30th, and I wasn’t 100% convinced by any means to remove it. I did initially vote in favour of removing it based on the costs that were presented to us but the fact of the matter is that the cost to Rosslanders is actually very good value for what we get. It’s a $76,000 service and our requisition was about 12% (Approx. $9,000) of that. So we benefit as a community.”
With the previous council having already taken action on its plan to phase out the recycling depot by sending notice to the Regional District, re-instating the recycling depot is not such a simple issue.
“Council adopted the motion and notified the regional district several months ago [of the intentions to close the depot on November 30th],” notes councillor Laurie Charlton. “The opportunity to reconsider that decision and change our mind has passed because action has been taken, and the community charter doesn’t allow us to go back and change our minds. What we have to do is basically submit a new proposal to the Regional District to consider re-establishing the recycling depot. Then the question becomes, are the other members of the regional district willing to reconsider reopening the depot because they will be paying close to 90% of the cost? I suspect that, given some of the past relations between Rossland and the Regional District, there may be some reluctance.”
If the RD does decide to re-establish the depot in Rossland, finding a suitable location will again become one of the core issues of the debate.
“I think the main reason that the last council voted to get rid of it was that we had a problem with location,” explained councillor Kathy Wallace. “We’re discussing locations but we haven’t confirmed it yet. We need to find a location that the city owns so that we can provide it to the Regional District rent-free. The arena parking lot isn’t working for a number of reasons such as snow removal issues from the city crews and there were a number of neighbours in the area that were complaining about the noise. The Centennial Trailhead is coming up as the best choice. There are some issues with it for sure, but we’ve got ways of camouflaging it a bit so that it’s not an eyesore coming into town. We need good entry signage to town so we can take advantage of it sitting there to build our signage around it “Welcome to Rossland. We recycle.”
If the depot is to remain in Rossland, a new location will have to be identified and set up quickly as the arena parking lot space which currently houses the bins has been dedicated to the Canadian Pond Hockey Western Qualifiers tournament to house an outdoor hockey rink. The rinks for the pond hockey event are planned to begin construction in mid-December.
One of the driving forces behind rethinking the decision to have or not to have a recycling depot in Rossland was that there appeared to be a large number of citizens who opposed its removal, citing blue box pickup as a non-viable option for them. Living on a street that is too steep for the trucks to access, or not being able to organize recyclables on the day of pickup for one reason or another were among the main reasons councillors heard in opposition to the depot’s removal.
Business owners voicing their concern on the issue to the previous council heard that the bins are not meant to be used for servicing businesses and that they should be setting up their own waste removal contracts with private contractors. Councillor Kathy Moore, in an effort to learn more about the issues, sought to find out the answer to whether the bins are for business use or not.
“That is a question that I asked last night of the administrator,” said Moore. “I was at the meeting when the last council addressed that and they said, ‘oh yes the business community had been given a discount on their taxes when they were told that the city would not be picking up their garbage or recycling’, but I talked to a number of people in the business community and not a single one of them ever recalled being told that or having a letter or anything like that. I`m not sure when that happened or what happened with that, but the business community is unaware that they got some advantage for the city not looking after their refuse. The other part of that is this is a regional service and if you`re a property owner you pay regional taxes, so those regional taxes are being paid. Business people operate in buildings; I don’t think they are getting anything for free. They are paying taxes, too.”
Maritza Reilly of the Rossland Chamber of Commerce, in an effort to gauge the feelings of the business community, distributed a survey to all chamber members asking their thoughts on the depot issue. She sent out 187 surveys. As of 4:30 PM on December 3rd, 76 had been completed and returned. Of these, 71 responded ‘yes’ in favour of council requesting the depot be reinstated, five responded ‘no’ and thirty four commented on the issue. These results and comments can be seen in full in the document attached to this article.
Mayor Greg Granstrom summed up the discussion showing this council’s commitment to working together explaining, “We’re going to ask the regional district if they can revisit the issue. We saw that there are a lot of people that really want this to stay and we are going to look forward to see what we can do to make it stay for the people in Rossland. It was a vote of council. It’s a decision of council. We act as a group and it will be a team decision.”
Council welcomes the public’s opinion on this issue as they reopen the discussion on the best way to serve Rossland’s recycling needs. Have your say on the issue in this week’s Telegraph poll.