Commercial landscapers and gardeners that accrue small loads of plants, grass clippings, leaves and other green waste could soon see their tipping fees waived.
Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) directors voted unanimously in committee Feb. 20 to relax rules to allow commercial operators to dump their green waste for free at the three public yard waste depots on the Sunshine Coast.
Currently, only the Sechelt landfill and Pender Harbour Transfer Station accept commercial green waste for a fee of $86 per tonne. Because there is no scale or attendants at the Gibsons facility, commercial operators are not allowed to use it.
Residential green waste is free as long as the load is less than five tonnes.
The rule changes, which still need to be adopted by the board, would allow small pickup trucks with loads no larger than 250 kilograms to drop off waste for free at all three sites, regardless of whether it’s a business or resident doing the dumping.
Staff said they chose 250 kilograms as the new maximum because loads “rarely exceed that amount.”
Implementation wouldn’t be before the third or fourth quarter of 2020 because staff still need to consult with the Town of Gibsons and Salish Soils, which also processes commercial and residential green waste. It’s also expected that up to $200,000 would need to be collected via taxation to cover hauling, processing and operating costs, since more waste will likely be dumped at the sites. A bylaw change and budget amendment would also be required.
During a board meeting last November, Area E director Donna McMahon raised the problem that commercial operators were “stealth” dumping at the unmonitored Gibsons location at 915 Henry Rd. She said the contractors were taking a financial hit since they had to drive further north, even though most of the waste came from residences to begin with – a point she repeated at the Feb. 20 committee meeting.
“There are a lot of small one-person gardening and home maintenance companies that use the facility, but the argument there is that they are doing the gardening work for people who are paying taxes to pay for the service. So why shouldn’t they? And I’m fairly persuaded by that,” said McMahon.
The Feb. 20 staff report acknowledged “there is a desire in the community and from the SCRD Board to allow green waste from small contractor-owned trucks that are hauling green waste from residential premises at the South Coast depot,” and added that commercial operators should get equal treatment, so tipping fees should be lifted at all public green waste depots.
Other options considered were installing a scale, hiring an attendant for the Gibsons depot and setting up a coupon program, or else creating a sticker program – but those options were even more costly or “too problematic given the range of variables.”