On Nov. 16 the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is holding a binding referendum offering a garbage and recycling service to residents of electoral areas A, B and C.
According to the CVRD website www.comoxvalleyrd.ca the proposed service will allow one 80-litre garbage can per week and unlimited recycling. The cost will be approximately $150 per household per year for the first three years and there will be no opting out.
The CVRD proposal requires households to reduce garbage to meet the goal of the Comox Strathcona Waste Management Plan, which is to divert 70 per cent of landfill material from the landfill.
The CVRD staff report dated Sept. 20 details financial costs and billing. It states CVRD will require one new staff person on an ongoing basis and estimates the internal costs for this new service to be approximately $100,000 annually.
It also states in regards to billing “the maximum requisition can now be set at the greater of 40 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value or $1.3 million.
“Despite the ability to requisition funds through taxation, the financial plan generates revenue through user fees in the form of a utility bill. For the years 2014 to 2016 (being the length of the proposed contract with BFI Canada, Inc.), the owners of each eligible dwelling who will receive the garbage and recycling collection service will be charged a utility bill of approximately $150 each year.”
CVRD controls garbage service on Denman and Hornby islands, and residents are charged for this service on their taxes as per assessed value of their property.
If this referendum is passed it is highly likely that, after 2016, residents of electoral areas A, B and C will also be billed as per assessed value of their property. It is unfair that households that receive the same service as their neighbours can be charged two or three times as much simply due to their property being assessed at a higher value.
What is being proposed is not a comparable service with that offered by private garbage companies.
Private companies allow two 121-litre garbage cans (the ones with wheels) weekly. They also offer bi-weekly, monthly and partial-year service.
This flexibility allows those who produce very little garbage, those on a fixed income or snowbirds to choose their level of service. And, most importantly, if the cost increases or service declines, customers can cancel the service and contract another company.
The purpose of the referendum is to enable CVRD to directly control how much garbage goes to the landfill. If approved it means mandatory recycling and residents will bear the additional cost of taking excess garbage to the landfill and some will dump it in the woods, compounding an existing problem.
Is 70-per-cent diversion from the landfill reasonable or necessary? If it is, it could be achieved at lower cost through private garbage service.
I am in full support of reducing landfill, and believe that all residents should recycle. In our household we recycle, use three composters and usually put out one garbage can for pickup.
The cost and effort of dropping off recycling is minimal since the recycling depots are conveniently located.
I don’t agree that a CVRD-controlled service is in the best interest of residents due to lack of competition and unfair policies. Anyone who thinks a government-controlled monopoly will provide better service at lower cost has not been paying attention — think ICBC.
If this proposal is implemented the option of private service will be gone forever.
It is important to vote since only those who vote will have a say in the outcome of the referendum. It will be passed with a 50 per cent plus one yes vote.