Additional funds for the regional recycling service are being withheld by the city until it receives some hard numbers from the regional district on the real cost of recycling collection.
The city is in the process of passing a resolution that would, as an interim step, request the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s central resource recovery committee (CRRC) set the 2020 tax requisition levels to that of 2019, and freeze that figure until several actions are met.
The CRRC has pledged to the city that it will confirm the impact of financial, staff and other resources on recycling services, as well as develop a policy addressing fees and taxation for communities — like Nelson — that provide their own recycling collection service.
The city participates in the regional district’s Refuse Disposal Service (service 187), which includes a recycling program, as well as the provincial recycling program operated by RecycleBC.
But the city operates its own curbside collection program — and only a portion of its recycling is collected at an RDCK site — and has asked for the city contribution to the regional service to reflect those facts.
In addition, for the last five years the city has asked the regional district for information on how Nelson’s requisition for the recycling portion of service 187 was calculated, but an answer has not been provided.
This follows on the heels of a city decision in early 2018 to withhold recycling service funds until it had an answer on the real cost of the service that the city’s residents consumed. It relented on that decision late last year when it released $170,000 “in good faith and in the spirit of collaboration.”
However, there will likely be an increase in the tax requisition for the recycling portion of service 187 — which Nelson is a part of — this year as a result of the regional district’s agreement with RecycleBC.
That new increase could come in at the tune of $163,000 — accounting for the creation and staffing of RecycleBC depots — along with a $300,000 capital cost to implement the RecycleBC transition.
Although the RDCK has committed to reviewing the service’s financials and the way it is funded, it is predicted the review will not take place until after the RDCK’s transition to RecycleBC is complete, with an answer arriving in 2021.
“In light of the fact that there will be an increase in the cost of the recycling portion of the service, and that the RDCK cannot yet provide data necessary to review the city’s contribution, RDCK staff has encouraged the city to make a formal request in order to limit the tax requisition,” noted city deputy corporate officer Gabriel Bouvet-Boisclair in his report to council.
The way the trash tumbles
The city has operated a curbside residential recycling collection program for a number of years, which was initially operated by the city and subsequently through a contract with RecycleBC.
RecycleBC pays communities to provide residential curbside collection.
The regional district initially chose not to participate in the RecycleBC program at its inception and operated the current depots in the district at a significant cost through service 187.
Recycling is part of this service and the RDCK has been providing both the collection and disposal part of this service for areas that do not have a curbside collection program. The RDCK also collects recycling for businesses, including Nelson businesses, as the RecycleBC program does not cover this sector. Certain Nelson residents also take their recycling directly to the RDKC Nelson depots.
The city has allowed an RDCK recycling depot to be located at the Nelson transfer station free of charge for a number of years as service to the greater Nelson area and Nelson residents and businesses that are not part of, or choose not to participate in, the curbside program.
The city does receive some benefit under the RDCK service in that the RDCK accepts the city’s curbside recycling material at the Grohman Narrows transfer station and accepts materials from residents/businesses that do not participate in the city’s curbside recycling program.
In 2018, the city elected to participate in its own curbside program through RecycleBC, and pay into service 187 at the current contribution levels.
“The city’s position is that its contribution to service 187 must reflect that the city operates its own residential curbside collection program and only a portion of its recycling is collected at an RDCK site,” noted Bouvet-Boisclair.
“To support the city’s position, council has repeatedly asked for a breakdown and review of the RDCK’s costs relative to the service in order to determine how the city’s contribution is being calculated. Such requests have been made formally and informally over the last five years.”
In response, the regional district has only provided the estimated cost to operate a RecycleBC depot in Nelson. Council also asked that the RDCK return surplus funds from the city’s recycling program for future use in the city’s recycling program.
— Source: City of Nelson (Gabriel Bouvet-Boisclair)