Nanaimo Recycling Exchange executive director Jan Hastings gives a tour of the facility earlier this summer. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

City will ask regional district to partner with recycling exchange

Nanaimo councillors voted 5-4 on Monday to refer the depot’s request for assistance to the RDN

City council will look to neighbouring communities to help with a solution for the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange.

Nanaimo councillors voted 5-4 on Monday to refer the depot’s request for assistance to the Regional District of Nanaimo.

The NRE has indicated that its current operations aren’t sustainable and it’s asking the municipality to build a new facility to lease to the non-profit. Costs for the new building aren’t yet public because there is still potential for private business to become involved in recycling.

At Monday’s meeting, councillors said they were hesitant to support the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange without knowing costs; Coun. Gord Fuller said it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible to do so.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said he wanted the city to take the next step in partnering with the exchange.

“I want to know about capital costs, I want to know about maintenance costs, I want to know about asset management,” he said. “But we can have those discussions with the NRE as the City of Nanaimo and if the answers to those questions and that information is not satisfactory, then fair enough, we can choose not to proceed.”

Thorpe said the NRE provides a valuable service primarily to citizens of Nanaimo more so than the region, and Coun. Diane Brennan said she believes the city will receive “zero support” from any area directors within the RDN.

Coun. Jim Kipp said he’s heard the opposite.

“The RDN electoral area directors … support the NRE. They like it as a regional service; they want to expand it,” he said.

Brennan said referring the NRE’s request to the regional district continues punting a problem around to delay making a decision to spend. She said the city should honour its zero waste aspirations.

“There are certain things that citizens agree that they will shoulder the taxes for, and this is one of them,” Brennan said.

Chief administrative officer Tracy Samra advised council to accept the staff recommendation to refer the matter to the RDN and warned about the implications of making a commitment to the NRE at Monday’s meeting.

“We cannot guarantee you the prices of the … capital building of this or the operations. It is an unknown,” she said. “Be also prepared that you’re doing something without consultation and public engagement on the City of Nanaimo undertaking a new line of business.”

Councillors Brennan, Thorpe, Sheryl Armstrong and Mayor Bill McKay opposed the motion.

Samra is already listed on the agenda to speak to the RDN board at a meeting Tuesday (Oct. 3); she will be accompanied by staff members including Charlotte Davis, city manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration.

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