In an effort to reduce the cost of residential green waste collection, Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors have asked staff to come back with a report outlining options to improve the Gibsons drop-off depot at the public works yard at 915 Henry Road.
At the same time, the majority of directors flatly rejected the idea of introducing curbside pick-up of green waste and organics, which the District of Sechelt introduced as a pilot program to 500 homes in the Davis Bay area on May 23.
They also rejected the option of charging user fees for the drop-off service.
After debating the options at the June 5 infrastructure services committee, directors recommended staff report back on the costs of yard improvements for the currently unsupervised Gibsons drop-off depot, either at the existing site or a new location.
The staff report will look at staffing costs for the Gibsons site, the ability to monitor access and load limits, the logistics of chipping collected materials, and increasing the operational efficiency of the program by potentially collaborating with Salish Soils.
The committee also amended an option to set seasonal limits for free drop-off by scheduling limited drop-off periods during December, January and February.
Voting against the motion, District of Sechelt director Darnelda Siegers said the SCRD’s solid waste management plan talks about curbside collection for food scraps and yard waste and that she supported looking at that option and finding ways to reduce costs.
“We are currently looking at how to reduce our costs, and what we’re looking at doing is adding staff. I don’t see how adding staff reduces costs,” Siegers said.
As for moving the Gibsons depot, Siegers said the SCRD does not have an alternate location, “and we’ve said as a board that we don’t have the staff, so that all doesn’t work for me.”
Other directors, however, noted that a new staffing arrangement could have a lower cost than the current system and that monitoring could also save money by reducing large commercial loads.
“I would like to see the analysis,” Gibsons alternate director Lee Ann Johnson said. “It’s not a decision to do that, but I think it’s important to know.”
During the discussion, Siegers cited the green waste program summary that showed the total cost per tonne last year at the Gibsons site was $78 compared to $52 for the Sechelt landfill and $30 each for Salish Soils and the Pender Harbour landfill.
Johnson, however, said the comparison was “a bit of an apples and oranges thing that needs some problem-solving attached to it.”
West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull said she did not believe people from Gibsons and area were “interested in having their green waste hauled to Sechelt” and suggested a new area be developed around Sprockids Park in Langdale.
“Curbside is not an option in Area F,” Turnbull added. “I feel we need to sort of go back to the starting point.”
Elphinstone director Lorne Lewis agreed that curbside pick-up would not be well received in his area.
“Too many people compost and see green waste as an imposition,” he said.
Roberts Creek director Donna Shugar said residents on large acreages would not be able to bundle large branches into yard bags for pick-up.
Several directors said they did not want to see green waste and food scraps co-mingled for pick-up, with Turnbull calling the practice “unacceptable.”
Placing organics on the curb, she added, would be an attractant for wildlife.
Johnson said the Town was “not interested in curbside pick-up of anything.”
She also pointed out that green waste collection is “hugely beneficial” to air quality and that benefit “shouldn’t be lost with cost.”
Turnbull and Lewis also stressed the success of the program based on the reduction in burning.
“The complaints about smoke have decreased and decreased and decreased,” Lewis said. “It’s working. An awful lot of people like the way it works. So we have to find a way to make it work more efficiently.”
The committee also voted in favour of board chair Garry Nohr’s motion to ask Howe Sound Pulp and Paper if the company would be willing to accept SCRD green waste.
The total cost for the program last year was $197,000. More than 3,400 tonnes of green waste were diverted from the landfill and composted at Salish Soil.
© Coast Reporter