The board for Comox Strathcona Waste Management has upheld its decision to keep landfills closed on statutory holidays starting in 2021.
A couple of municipal government members recently raised the matter because pickup schedules for waste would disproportionally affect their communities.
The Town of Comox was the first to raise the matter and sent letters to partners in CSWM, which handles waste management for the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts. The Village of Cumberland followed suit, asking for a review of the decision. The City of Courtenay has responded to schedule changes by bringing in an “add-a-day” policy.
At the CSWM board meeting on Dec. 3, the latest development was that Comox had worked out its scheduling issues with the hauler, leaving Cumberland alone when it comes to the challenges around closing the landfill.
“This is definitely an evolving issue,” said Marc Rutten, general manager of engineering services for CSWM.
The CSWM board opted in November 2019 to make the change to save money by closing the landfill on holidays. Since that time, Cumberland’s collection day has changed from Wednesdays to Mondays, commonly the day of the week for statutory holidays.
Complicating matters was the advent of COVID-19, which delayed CSWM meetings in the spring. Sean Sullivan, Cumberland council’s representative on the board, said the issue “flew under the radar” for some time. He also alluded to the late news that the situation had been resolved between Comox and the hauler.
“This is last minute … that Comox has been worked out,” he said. “It just looks like Cumberland’s holding the bag now. I just hope we can sort it out.”
A CSWM staff report said the decision should save about $60,000 a year. Along with savings, the move is also aimed at staff morale by allowing people time off with families.
Ultimately, there seemed to be little appetite to reverse the decision from more than a year ago.
“We can’t keep revisiting decisions that are made by the board,” said Andy Adams, Campbell River’s mayor and one of its representatives to the board. “We keep sending mixed messages to staff.”
Some board members asked about deferring the matter, citing a need for more communication to affected communities about the changes. However, the board approved a motion to affirm its decision from November 2019 that the waste management centres for both the Comox Valley and Campbell River will close on statutory holidays as of Jan. 1, 2021. Sullivan, along with Comox members Alex Bissinger and Ken Grant, opposed the motion.
At the end of the meeting, Sullivan made a motion following up on a letter from Cumberland council to CSWM that it and contractors continue to work toward options for the community’s scheduling issue around holidays. The motion carried.