A report on funding a $6.05-million request by the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange was referred back to staff at Monday’s special council meeting. NEWS BULLETIN file

No decision made on NRE, city will meet with for-profit recyclers

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange said it needs more time to compile business plan

City staff presented funding possibilities for the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, but neither the NRE nor city council talked about the numbers.

A report on funding a $6.05-million request by the recycling exchange was referred back to staff at Monday’s special council meeting.

A delegation from the non-profit depot told council that it was still working on compiling a business plan.

Jan Hastings, NRE executive director, said the reason the exchange hadn’t provided financial figures was because it had been advised to keep those numbers confidential during a recent funding-request process with the Regional District of Nanaimo.

“The reason was never to withhold information,” Hastings said. “We are happy to provide the documents requested and we are putting them together. We just want to be 100 per cent sure of what people want to see.”

The recycling exchange closed its gates last Wednesday.

Hastings suggested the NRE’s financial plan will unfortunately show the impacts of “long-term inactivity with no revenue” and the $100,000 cost of demolishing its current site. She said when the NRE first approached city council last summer, “even though timelines were still tight, at that time we had the ability to build and transition to a new facility with very minimal interruption of services and no interruption of revenue.”

The city staff report, authored by Wendy Fulla, manager of business, asset and financial planning, noted that if the city were to pay for a $6.05-million recycling depot, the recommended funding option would be an annual grant. If paid for by user fees, the increase would be approximately $15-18 per household per year; if paid for via property taxes, the increase would be approximately 0.2-0.3 per cent.

The report was not discussed, however, as the conversation was more about the operations and mandate of the NRE.

“Fifteen hundred cars a day driving from all over Nanaimo to drop off six bottles and few styrofoam things; that’s not an environmentally sensitive methodology,” said Coun. Jim Kipp.

RELATED: Councillors won’t decide yet on NRE request for $6 million

Also discussed was the immediate future of recycling in the city now that the NRE has suspended operations.

Craig Cookman, spokesman for the Vancouver Island Recycling and Waste Industry Coalition which represents for-profit companies, said his group is working on public awareness.

“We currently, between all of us, do accept the items that the NRE’s accepting now and have done so, and we don’t see it as a short-term thing, it’s for the long-term,” he said.

Coun. Jerry Hong motioned for city staff to meet with VIRWIC with the intent to share recycling information with residents.

Coun. Diane Brennan and Coun. Ian Thorpe spoke against that suggestion, with Brennan saying she had concerns about the optics.

“The NRE closes down and we take this opportunity then to meet with the private sector on how they can fill in for the NRE?” Brennan asked. “I just think that we need to look at the NRE’s information for us before we start to do any work with the private sector.”

Coun. Bill Yoachim said the city has a responsibility to provide recycling information to residents, and Hong pointed out the NRE needs to build a building and there is no timeline for it to resume operations.

“So what are we going to do for the next year if we don’t have a plan in place?” he asked. “We already got caught off-guard with this and we didn’t have any information to let the public know when they did close. We knew that they were closing and we had no plan.”

The motion to refer the city report back to staff passed with Coun. Bill Bestwick opposed. The motion for city staff to meet with private recyclers passed with councillors Brennan, Thorpe and Mayor Bill McKay opposed.


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