Re: Rural garbage pickup and roadside recycling referendum.
Personally I would have saved money and I still voted no. Why?
Because we need to become much smarter at leveraging our tax dollars for the benefit of our community.
This contract would have hurt a local business. If we want to have a private sector here in the Valley, we had better support independent business ventures.
Perhaps our waste management and recycling programs could be provided by a social enterprise matching industry prices and service, providing jobs for locals and recirculating the profits back into community social services or infrastructure.
The Edmonton Recycling Society ran like this for years, employing barriered individuals and returning 50 per cent of the profits back to the city.
These are our tax dollars and, all things being equal, public sector institutions have a responsibility to spend the money with local organizations, especially when the price and service delivery can be matched by a local company or social enterprise.
The Olympics taught us lots about social impact purchasing, lessons which have influenced Social Impact Purchasing Legislation to be passed in Scotland and for Community Benefit Clauses to be included in contracts with the PanAm Games in Toronto.
With a small change in the wording of RFPs, future garbage collection contracts could require a 10-per-cent community benefit clause and a partnership which benefits a local charity; or an organization like Dawn to Dawn could fully own the waste management company, offering jobs to the homeless and applying the profits to fund housing.
There is also nothing to stop Island Health, (VIHA) stating that a set percentage, say 30 per cent, of all food served in the new hospital must be sourced locally, providing our farmers with secure market access to a local, commercial scale customer.
If you would like to see your tax dollars being spent more wisely, please contact your local politicians and public sector purchasing officers to ask if their current purchasing policy is maximizing the use of every tax dollar and helping us to become a more economically sustainable community — or are they merely asking for the lowest bid and sending our hard-earned dollars out of the Valley as fast as possible?
Editor’s note: Sandra Hamilton is a business consultant who specializes in social enterprise and in advancing the social economy on Vancouver Island.