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Nanaimo Recycling Exchange seeks support from local government

Lacking the finances to build a new facility, the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is asking government for help.

The not-for-profit recycling depot will have to relocate from its current Kenworth Road location in the spring, as the landowner is looking to develop the site, and is seeking funding and partnership with the Regional District of Nanaimo and the City of Nanaimo. A new facility is planned for an adjacent property and a development permit is close to being secured, but the group doesn’t have the means to begin construction on its own.

“The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange cannot manage the cost of construction of the new facility,” executive director Jan Hastings told the News Bulletin. “Over the past year, we have worked with Checkwich Poiron Architects to complete the building and site plan and we are ready to begin construction.”

Hastings said the request for assistance is based on the costs of construction and during a presentation to the regional district board on Jan. 28, she said the construction budget is estimated at $1.7 million.

The new facility would have a large building with space for recycling activity, a re-use material store, and education and administration services. As well, there would be a larger area for yard waste and the facility would be able to handle more vehicles with reduced wait times, according to Hastings.

“There will be no more mixing of pedestrian and vehicle traffic with large commercial trucks and equipment,” she said.

Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan, who sits on the regional district board, said the recycling exchange provides an essential service but questioned its sustainability.

“When you put a lot of money into a building and a lot of money into some of the other structures that you need, it doesn’t necessarily create funding for you,” Ruttan said at the board meeting. “It might provide an opportunity for more funding ... if several million dollars goes into this, is there a method to repay it? Can you service the debt?”

Hastings said it would be difficult and that was why assistance is being sought. The last thing the recycling exchange wanted was “unmanageable debt” and it was working with a bank to secure a loan. Having a new facility of its own would free up more money.

“We pay a lot of money in our lease right now; well, we won’t be doing that when we move to the new property, so there are factors that do increase our ability for repayment and to manage the operations,” she said.

The regional district board approved a motion at the meeting that will see staff prepare a report on possible funding mechanisms.

The recycling exchange was established in 1992 and Hastings said it does not compete with the private sector, but rather complements it.

On top of the usual recyclable items, such as paper, it also takes gasoline, glass, batteries, light bulbs, non-container plastics, styrofoam and books.

Hastings and the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange are also planning to approach the city, although a date has not yet been set.

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