The current Nanaimo Recycling Exchange site on Kenworth Road. The NRE hopes for a new depot nearby, but it’s asking for $6.05 million from the City of Nanaimo for construction. NEWS BULLETIN file

Editorial: Depot can’t be built without plan in place

The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange continues to teeter closer toward closure

We want to recycle, but it could become a lot harder to do here in Nanaimo.

The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange continues to teeter closer toward closure as an 11th-hour solution wasn’t found this week and it’s now more like half past 11.

There was no decision made at the City of Nanaimo committee of the whole meeting Monday as to whether to support the NRE’s request for $6.05 million to build a new facility on Kenworth Road.

Councillors have been criticized for a perceived lack of support for the NRE, but this week, they really had no other choice. The recycling exchange came in front of council and proved without a doubt that they have the support of the community, but couldn’t prove that they had a workable financial plan. Councillors had questions about operational costs that the NRE couldn’t answer, beyond pointing to past financial statements. Yes, the recycling exchange deserves some benefit of the doubt for its efforts over the last 25 years, but it’s talking significant changes to operations, and if it has considered those changes, it wasn’t able to show its work, so to speak, when it approached council on Monday.

Coun. Ian Thorpe pointed out that the NRE is a non-profit and city council doesn’t generally ask non-profits to provide business plans when they come to council chambers, cap in hand. But the recycling depot, along with drawings of what its new building might look like, needed to have more information about what its operations will look like, and cost, at a new facility.

Monday’s discussion demonstrated that there hadn’t been adequate communication between the NRE and the city throughout the process so far. Those conversations should have happened, because a shutdown of the NRE’s operations will impact the city’s curbside collection. (And unfortunately, the Regional District of Nanaimo’s landfill.)

Recycling is important to the community and should receive taxpayer funding. Maybe $6.05 million, but not $6.05 million plus a whole bunch of blank cheques. If recycling in Nanaimo is to include the NRE, there has to be a plan, or at least an understanding.

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