Cost confusion complicates council decision about Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

By Spencer Sterritt
October 3, 2017 - 5:36pm

The NRE's lease expires early next year and after another delegation appearance before City Council, are still no closer to a decision.Submitted/Environmental Protection Agency

NANAIMO — The unknown cost of supporting the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange clouded City Council discussions about partnering with the site.

On Monday night, councillors once again debated a request from the Exchange for the City to pay for a new facility and lease it back to the non-profit. The Exchange says their current lease expires early next year and they've run out of options.

However, the projected costs of creating a new site wasn't included in the request and hasn't yet been made public.

“There's no cost for this...It's really hard for us to make a decision and let the public know without knowing how (much) this is going to cost,” coun. Jerry Hong said.

Concern over the lack of funding details was echoed numerous times by other councillors during the meeting. Several emphasized while they like the idea of the Exchange, they couldn't support it without knowing the full details.

Darren Moss, the delegate speaking for the Exchange, told council “it's basically been decided that we wait until we understand the model that is to be proposed, until those numbers are released. I would like to be able to offer you otherwise but that's the request we've had in our discussions to date.”

Addressing confusion on council, chief financial officer Victor Mema said the numbers “would be, at some point in an in-camera meeting, shared with you,” depending on the decision council made. He told NanaimoNewsNOW the City has “limited financial information” at this point.

A staff report recommended Council take the issue to the Regional District of Nanaimo at their next meeting.

“The Regional District of Nanaimo provides facilities to receive materials and the City of Nanaimo does not,” sanitation manager Charlotte Davis said. “We are partners in making sure our region achieves zero waste. But we feel, upon looking a little further, the provision of these services really lies with the regional district and not the City of Nanaimo.”

The staff report also showed 40 per cent of recycle depots in the province are owned by regional districts, while only eight per cent are owned by municipalities.

The vote to defer the decision to the RDN passed 5-4, with mayor Bill McKay and councillors Armstrong, Brennan and Thorpe opposed.

Coun. Jim Kipp, who voted in favour of deferral, said the whole situation had devolved substantially over the years.

“It's somewhat confusing when two entity governments are dealing with this. There's too many try and get this handled.”

Kipp sits on the Solid Waste Management Select Committee with the RDN and said he had both an RDN and City of Nanaimo meeting on the same day about the Exchange, which had different information.

“We're getting too many fingers in the garbage,” he said.

Mayor Bill McKay, who also sits on the committee with Kipp, said he voted against sending the decision to the RDN because he knew it would die.

“We've bounced this group back and forth between the RDN about six times already. If we can't get support from the members of Nanaimo council to commit to it, it will go nowhere at the RDN.”

The Regional District of Nanaimo board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Both Nanaimo CAO Tracy Samra and Exchange executive director Jan Hastings are scheduled to appear as delegations.

Jan Hastings didn't reply to NanaimoNewsNOW for further clarification by deadline. 


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

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