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Strathcona Regional District dissatisfied with solid waste system

CAMPBELL RIVER — A separate solid waste system is not necessary, says the Strathcona Regional District.

That’s despite regional board members’ dissatisfaction with the current system, shared with the Comox Valley.

The regional district’s solid waste, or landfill, services are administered by the joint Comox-Strathcona regional solid waste service.

But recently the Strathcona Regional District, which serves the Campbell River area, looked into the feasibility of pulling out of the existing service, which is administered by the Comox Valley Regional District.

A report to the regional district’s Committee of the Whole on June 23, notes the regional district board’s concern about the current arrangement raised at a Nov. 25 meeting held in-camera, where media and the public are not allowed to attend.

Brian Reardon, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, wrote in his report that the board asked staff to look into the feasibility of creating a separate solid waste function, based on a number of concerns from the board about the Comox-Strathcona regional solid waste service.

“Everything from a lack of information on the budget process, to key staff members not being available to board members, to a lack of openness and transparency, and to a perception of a Comox Valley-centric service with respect to advertising and publications,” Reardon wrote.

But Campbell River city councillor Roy Grant, who also sits on the regional district board, said he wasn’t aware of those concerns and stressed that too much shouldn’t be read into the regional district’s actions.

He said the district was just trying to be thorough and looking for potential cost savings.

“We’re looking at it on the mild side,” said Grant. “We felt it was incumbent on us to at least check if it would be more cost-efficient if we operated a solid waste site on our own. I think it’s our responsibility, if there’s any cost savings to pass on to the taxpayer, to at least research those.”

Grant said he doesn’t believe the regional district will take any further action on pursuing its own solid waste service.

The board’s only resolution was to receive Reardon’s report, which said withdrawing from the current solid waste structure and creating its own, would be difficult for the Strathcona Regional District as well as a time-consuming and costly process.

“It will involve extensive negotiations with the other service participants, acquiring a new landfill site, undertaking and receiving Ministry of Environment approval of a new solid waste management plan, and finally incurring the startup costs for new machinery, hiring personnel, and acquiring systems,” Reardon said, adding the justification to the province for such an undertaking would have to be substantial.

When the former Comox-Strathcona Regional District was dissolved in February 2008, the province’s rationale for creating an extra-territorial solid waste management service was to minimize disruption and keep costs down.

Reardon added the board’s concerns “seem to be administrative in nature and could be and should be addressed under the current structure by the combined (Comox-Strathcona Regional Solid Waste Management) board.”

Calls to Comox-Strathcona solid waste management were not returned.

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