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SCRD hunts for new bin location

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has to make some decisions soon on what to do with its recycling bins located at Park Plaza Mall in Gibsons because of re-development plans.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has to make some decisions soon on what to do with its recycling bins located at Park Plaza Mall in Gibsons because of re-development plans.

The mall's owner has said the construction and re-development will not allow for the recycling drop-off point to remain. But where the SCRD is going to offer recycling is still a matter of question.

"We were told we have to get out of that site by the end of September. We've now been told we can stay there until the end of the year. In the meantime, we're going to meet with the Town of Gibsons and we're also looking at other alternatives," said John France, chief administrative officer for the SCRD.

France said the SCRD is looking for a temporary location to put the bins while the SCRD and its advisory groups are nearing completion of the Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) update - the guiding policy document for all solid waste services provided by the SCRD. France said the SWMP update is likely to contain recommendations that will change the entire recycling landscape on the Sunshine Coast.

He said the update should be ready in draft form and open to public comment in November.

The first attempt to find a new location failed last Tuesday (Sept. 14) after the Gibsons planning and development committee voted down a rezoning application from the owners of Sunnycrest Mall where the SCRD's previous recycling contractor SCRAPS used to operate. The committee cited concerns over safety, traffic congestion in the parking lot, and a lack of desire to bend the rules for moving a recycling facility while a private facility already operates within the Town.

That private business, Gibsons Recycling Depot, is now lobbying to have the bins moved to its Venture Way location, moved out of town to a place like the Wilson Creek mall, or eliminated altogether, allowing private business to take on the job.

Gibsons Recycling co-owner Barb Hetherington appeared before Gibsons council Tuesday night (Sept. 21) to encourage the Town to not vote for any rezoning that will allow the bins to move.

"There are already recycling services in the Town of Gibsons that a government-run facility would compete with and that includes our business and also includes London Drugs, which has a marvellous take-back business," she said. "We're offering our services. We're offering ourselves to create a solution for this problem of the SCRD not having a site in Gibsons."

Hetherington acknowledged that her proposed changes would result in layoffs for SCRD staff, which would violate the SCRD's union contract, but suggested moving the staff elsewhere within the SCRD or proceeding with layoffs.

France said that solution is not practical given that the SCRD would have to pay for a new private recycling contract while continuing to pay staff that used to do the same job.

He encouraged patience on the matter, saying that the board does not want to contract out the service on a temporary basis while the SWMP update is just months away.

"The short of it is, we're very close to having a solid waste update plan which is going to go to the public, then the board gets to make decisions on what the next steps look like," he said. "Anything in the interim is just a stop-gap fix-it that we will maintain until a decision is made. Hopefully that decision is made early in the new year."

Because the relocation of the bins involves discussion over potential contracts, the SCRD board must hold its debates in-camera.