In our Dec. 27 issue, the News Bulletin detailed our story of the year for 2018, Discontent City. That article can be found atthis link. Here is one of the runner-up stories of the year:
After threatening to shutter if it didn’t receive government assistance, the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange was true to its word in 2018.
With a lease set to expire March 31, the non-profit recycling society locked the gates to its Kenworth Road site on March 21. A new facility had been sought since 2012 and the NRE wasn’t able to find an existing site that would be suitable to lease or rent. It owned property adjacent to the Kenworth site, but said the construction budget was prohibitive.
In July 2017, Jan Hastings, then NRE executive director, told the News Bulletin there had been conversations with the City and Regional District of Nanaimo and that the NRE was asked if it could build something cheaper, or partner with someone. Hastings said the NRE had explored partnerships with fellow recycling organizations and a developer, which could construct a facility and lease back to the NRE, but Hastings said no one could do so while adhering to all the regulations and at a price that made sense.
The city referred a request for assistance to the regional district in October 2017 and the RDN subsequently voted to continue consideration of the NRE’s request, with the intention of meeting with it and discussing the matter.
With no firm decision in December 2017, a grassroots campaign was launched, seeking to keep the exchange open, with organizers asking Nanaimo residents to write letters and sign a petition.
In February, the regional district announced it wouldn’t purchase land from NRE, but would instead contribute preliminary support in the form of $300,000 a year for five years, pending provincial approval of its solid waste management plan, which is expected to come in the next eight months, the RDN told the News Bulletin.
Similarly, the city announced in July that it wouldn’t contribute $6 million for a new facility, plus $600,000 to cover costs that would be incurred between closure of the old and opening of a new facility. The NRE responded by stating it had abandoned plans for a new depot and would sell its land.
Despite not receiving funding and abandoning plans for a new facility, the society is not dead. The RDN has set aside $300,000 in its proposed 2019 budget for the exchange to act as a research and recycling hub focusing on zero-waste recycling. Hastings told the News Bulletin there is still a lot of uncertainty. It could be early in the new year when it decides on the next steps, she said.
“We might not have the whole plan by then, but the board could certainly have made a decision on part of it and you know, we have the new solid waste management plan, so it’s really important that we look at where the gaps are and how to move the dial towards zero waste,” Hastings said.
Hastings said the land has been sold and the money is currently in reserve, but wouldn’t divulge the sale price.