The Regional District of Nanaimo has decided against purchasing land from the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange and constructing a new recycling facility.
The exchange currently operates off of a site at Kenworth Road and with a lease expiring at the end of March, had requested the RDN buy NRE-owned land at an adjacent site and build on it. Instead, the regional district announced preliminary support, which could see $300,000 annually to the exchange for five years, pending public consultation and provincial approval of its solid waste management plan, which is currently in its third stage.
Bill Veenhof, RDN board chairman, wouldn’t give specific figures related to the exchange’s ask, but said it was prohibitive.
“When we examined their request, which we turned down, land and building, every director voted the way they did based on their own personal [views], but it was a significant amount of money,” said Veenhof.
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Ian Thorpe, Nanaimo city councillor and RDN board vice-chairman, echoed Veenhof’s sentiments.
“That to me personally just seemed very expensive, very complicated, very unwieldy,” said Thorpe. “I can’t speak for the board, but I don’t think that would’ve found support … I personally did not think it was feasible even though I was certainly supportive of the NRE and wanted to help them.”
In a presentation to the RDN committee of the whole Tuesday, Ben Geselbracht, NRE vice-chairman, suggested annual contributions of $350,000 from the regional district and $100,000 a year through a membership drive, something Thorpe said he was pleased about.
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The final draft of the waste management plan is expected to go before the province in May for approval. If all the approvals from province and RDN are provided, the recycling exchange would receive money beginning in 2019.
Thorpe said the City of Nanaimo’s amount would be $167,700 in tax requisition money and Veenhof stressed that it is only preliminary support that has been provided.
“It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the fullness of time,” said Veenhof. “The public discussion may suggest that it’s a bad idea, but for the present the board endorses the idea of $300,000 a year to recycle hard recyclable materials.”
Geselbracht told the News Bulletin the recycling exchange board hasn’t had the opportunity to discuss the matter yet and thus, isn’t in the position to comment. Ilan Goldenblatt, campaign manager of Vote Yes NRE, a grassroots campaign advocating for a new facility, said he was disappointed with the announcement.
Goldenblatt said the RDN acknowledged the important role of the NRE, but the proposal completely changes how the NRE operates, as well as its vision and spirit.
“[The NRE] will not be able to leverage this money towards any kind of borrowing of funds and because of the short window of the five years … essentially, likely means that they won’t be able to do anything with the centrally located land that they have. So they’ll end up losing that land, they’ll lose the central location,” said Goldenblatt. “That financing seems to be tied into them only doing education and dealing with hard-to-recycle materials, which means they’ll lose their re-use community store and the re-use plank of their zero-waste recycling.”
Feedback will be accepted until May, said Thorpe.
To submit input to the RDN, go to www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/swmp.