Comox Valley Regional District chair Edwin Grieve thanks the 4,289 residents who voted in Saturday’s referendum that defeated a proposal for a solid waste pickup service in rural areas.
“It goes to show that you can have all the public meetings, written comments and telephone surveys but you really have go to the people,” Grieve said. “We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have democratic process.”
Unofficial results indicate 73 per cent of voters said no to the service that would have reached about 7,500 homes in areas A, B and C. The turnout was 29 per cent.”
The CVRD considered rural pickup when it appeared the public supported the proposed program. Some residents, however, were angry about not being able to opt out of the service.
Phil Harrison voted No because he doesn’t need the service. The Area B resident composts and recycles monthly at Home Depot or the landfill in Cumberland.
“I’m not in favour of having a free enterprise service administered by local government,” Harrison said. “It’s not a complex critical service, as is managing and delivering tap water, and I don’t see the need for a third-party cost.”
Pickup would have cost about $150 per household per year. The CVRD board had awarded a three-year service contract to BFI Canada.
Harrison said there was a prevailing feeling that the CVRD was not forthright on the cost, the BFI bid and the bylaw.
Sun Coast Waste was low bidder by almost $275,000.
Harrison also said a number of rural residents are still upset about imposed water rates and inequities.
He suggests the referendum, with just 27 per cent support, sends a strong message of a “disconnect” between rural residents and the CVRD, which predicted 75-per-cent support for universal roadside rural service.
Along with reducing costs for most residents and diverting recyclables from landfills, Grieve said another benefit of roadside collection is a rebate program offered by Multi-Material British Columbia (MMBC), which manages the collection and processing of packaging and printed paper (PPP) materials. To apply and receive rebates, local governments need to ‘own’ the service.