More than 500 people turned out last Wednesday in the second advance vote before Saturday’s referendum about garbage and recycling pickup in the rural areas of the regional district.
A total of 136 ballots were cast in the first vote. A third advance voting opportunity is being held Wednesday.
If the referendum is favourable, residents in areas A, B and C — excluding Denman and Hornby islands, Royston and Mount Washington — will receive weekly roadside collection service starting September.
Some residents are angry about not being able to opt out of the service, which will cost about $150 per year per household. Elements Recycling Services of Comox protested during Wednesday’s vote, urging voters to support local family business, until police shooed them away.
Jerry Kupiak, owner of Sun Coast Waste, says his company was low bidder for the collection contract by almost $275,000.
“I just don’t get it,” said Kupiak, who questions the choice for weekly collection, which he says is not necessary.
The CVRD board awarded a three-year contract to BFI Canada. Aside from price, staff said the choice also considered technical components, experience, reputation and environmental factors. After the three-year term, there is an option for a two-year contract extension. However, if terms cannot be reached, the contract will go back to tender.
Kupiak and his wife started Sun Coast in the Valley 17 years ago. It has since turned into a family business, with Kupiak’s son and daughter joining the team.
If the referendum passes, Kupiak will likely need to lay off three drivers because he said he would lose about 60 per cent of revenue in the Comox Valley and Campbell River areas.
“You take on debt and buy trucks and do things,” he said. “Once this is gone, I still have to pay those bills…We’ll do our best to survive.”
The recycling portion of the pickup service is expected to help the district achieve 70 per cent diversion from landfills.
CVRD board chair Edwin Grieve — who realizes it “doesn’t work for everybody” — says the service will reduce costs for most residents.
“By doing this offer, I think we get the bang for our buck for the most people,” Grieve said. “Even people with once-a-month pickup are still saving money.”
He said another benefit 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 for and receive rebates, Grieve said local governments need to ‘own’ the service.
The proposed roadside collection program is not eligible for incentives in the initial rollout, but the CVRD could apply after the new stewardship plan is implemented. (Steward refers to organizations obligated by regulation to recover packaging and printed paper from residential households.)
Kupiak, who sits on the Coast Waste Management Association board, claims MMBC does not support weekly recycling collection because volumes don’t support it.
MMBC, however, says it does not make decisions around the type of containers and frequency of collection.
“We leave those to local governments; we don’t dictate what they do with those service levels,” said Allen Langdon, managing director at MMBC.
Wednesday’s advance vote (Nov. 13) is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the CVRD boardroom at 550B Comox Rd. in Courtenay. Saturday’s referendum is same time, same place.
Votes can also be cast Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at these locations:
- • Living Waters Church – 222 Regent Rd., Black Creek;
- • North Island Distance School – 2505 Smith Rd., Courtenay;
- • Union Bay community hall – 5401 Island Hwy South, Union Bay;
- • Fanny Bay OAP hall – 418 Ships Point Rd., Fanny Bay.
For more information, visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/vote.