No funding promises following public campaign to save Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

By Ian Holmes
January 10, 2018 - 5:37pm

Rendering of what a new NRE facility could look like.Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

Postal codes of the people in Nanaimo who support a new NRE facility. Ilan Goldenblatt

NANAIMO — The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is creeping closer to accepting its last load, as the longstanding non-profit agency struggles to secure capital funding for a new facility.

The Kenworth Rd. recycling service faces expiry of their lease at the end of March, while the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Board gets set to vote on a potential long-term solution.

“If we don't get some kind of, I suppose promise, that a facility can be built, we close,” Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE) executive director Jan Hastings told NanaimoNewsNOW.

The NRE owns a larger vacant lot beside their current location — the problem is a lack of money to build a new facility on it.

Hastings said she's worked on securing a new building for the NRE for more than five years and this topic has been volleyed between the City and RDN multiple times.

Vote Yes NRE representative Ilan Goldenblatt approached City of Nanaimo and RDN politicians this week lobbying on behalf of the NRE. He told NanaimoNewsNOW more than 1,800 email petitions were signed and about 3,000 postcards filled out in favour of having the City of Nanaimo and RDN support building a new NRE.

Hastings said many of their users appreciate the wide range of items they accept, noting research clearly shows convenient one-stop facilities increase recycling.

“(People tell us) I'm not driving to five different places, I want this one-stop place or it's going to end up in all of the wrong places if the NRE disappears.”

Hastings said improper curbside recycling, illegal dumping and an unnecessary strain on the regional landfill on Cedar Rd. would undoubtedly follow if the NRE shut down.

Another stake in the local waste diversion landscape is the several for-profit operators, who have concerns with taxpayer funds supporting local recycling infrastructure.

A statement from the Vancouver Island and Waste Industry Coalition, a consortium of for-profit recycling and waste collectors, asked the RDN to evaluate the value for money of the NRE's proposal.

“It would be much cheaper for the city/RDN to pay industry a few dollars a kilogram to take this material at all the private facilities across the region versus building one taxpayer financed central facility,” the statement said.

Hastings said it takes both private operators and the NRE to divert more, not less from the landfill. She said products like plastics and Styrofoam don't make money, which are core items the NRE accepts and private operators don't.

At Tuesday's RDN committee of the whole meeting, board chair Bill Veenhof said their staff have worked with the City of Nanaimo and the NRE on their new facility push.

“We've retained experts to examine the NRE and what potential solutions we can arrive at. This requires financial and legal due diligence,” Veenhof said.

He added the RDN should receive an in-camera report within the next month and the RDN does not expect to manage or fund an interim solution for the NRE beyond March, when their lease expires.

Hastings said she doesn't know how much a new NRE facility would cost, noting the RDN would help determine that. But she did say the NRE has studied the costs, which would incur more debt that their organization could absorb.


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UPDATE: Nanaimo woman not seen for two weeks is found, RCMP say