Courtenay cool to request for appeal to oppose recycling plan

The City of Courtenay has entered into an agreement with Multi Material BC for the collection of packaging and printed paper. Curbside collection is set to begin May 19.

An alliance of business groups opposed to the new recycling system are demanding the Province halt the planned launch.

Canadian Newspaper Association chair Peter Kvarnstrom, a graduate of Vanier Secondary School, who is publisher of the Coast Reporter in Sechelt, warns the new system will be "catastrophic" to B.C. community and daily newspapers. He predicts job losses in an already-challenged industry and reduced service to communities.

Under the MMBC plan, the estimated cost to B.C. newspapers is about $10 million a year because of the 20 cents per kilogram to be paid on newsprint, compared to less than half a penny in Ontario.

The Comox Valley Record has asked the City of Courtenay to reconsider supporting MMBC, and to appeal to Premier Christy Clark to request postponement of MMBC's program until all levels of government and the business community can first discuss the issue.

In a letter to council, Record publisher Zena Williams says consumers will have to absorb $110 million in extra fees and costs of products under the new system.

"There is not going be a reduction in municipal taxes and the bureaucracy being created to manage the system is huge," Williams states.

MMBC managing director Allan Langdon says newspapers are not required to join the non-profit stewardship agency. They can, in fact, develop their own system — a possibility to which Kvarnstrom has alluded.

Black Press CEO Rick O'Connor denies Langdon's claims of newspapers seeking a subsidy and of strategic, last-minute campaigning. O'Connor says MMBC reneged on a deal a year ago. He says newspapers should be able to make their contribution in-kind like Ontario and as originally agreed with MMBC.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said the City is not a player in a dispute between newspapers and the Province.

Coun. Jon Ambler is optimistic about the recycling program — considering the promise of more recycling and less cost to homeowners — though it "remains to be seen if it will be delivered."

Council approved a user fee adjustment for curbside recyclables that would credit homeowners $10.79 after May 19.

With a file from Black Press


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