The people who run the Stone Soup charity to feed those who are hungry downtown are being told their fundraising recycling efforts have outgrown their backyard.
The City of Nanaimo has issued notice to residents of 155 Victoria Rd. that the property may not be used as a refund container recycling depot.
“Give us a break here,” said Tanya Hiltz, president of the Wisteria Community Association. “Nobody’s breaking laws sorting bottles and hauling them to a bottle depot. How many other people are doing that every day?”
She said the Wisteria association puts the money raised from the recycling into Stone Soup, a registered charity that sees association members handing out food and drinks every night on Wesley Street to people experiencing homelessness or anyone who is hungry. People who wish to support the charity drop off recyclables at the Victoria Road property and association members also pick up recyclables from elsewhere to bring to the property for sorting.
“They’re accepting mass donations dropped off, bottles, clothing, etc., so the whole backyard at times is filled with this stuff and they’re sorting it and making noise and there’s smell, etc., and it’s generating complaints from the neighbourhood,” said Dave LaBerge, the city’s manager of community safety.
He said there have been complaints that the property is unsightly and noisy and is attracting vermin; Hiltz said the association stops sorting at 5 p.m. every evening and said there are no vermin.
She said other non-profit groups and service clubs hold bottle drives, but LaBerge said those are generally one-off events.
“If any other non-profit was doing this and we got complaints, we would respond in the same way,” he said, adding that in these sort of instances, groups might need to be “a little more creative on finding a site where you can receive [recyclables] and sort them that isn’t disrupting other people in the area.”
Hiltz said the association’s goal is to be able to operate Stone Soup in a facility close to downtown with a food-preparation area.
Wisteria Community Association members and volunteers have been continuing to sort recycling at the property, more than a month after receiving the letter from the city. LaBerge said the letter explains the bylaw violation and asks for compliance and if it is ignored, the city would look at its options including, potentially, “injunctive action.”