Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Richmond and other municipalities across the province against changes being proposed by the new recycling organization are now being joined by Burnaby in the fight.
At Monday night's council meeting, Burnaby decided to write to Mary Polak, environment minister, and Coralee Oakes, minister of community, sport and cultural development, to postpone the Sept. 16 deadline to sign a contract with Multi-Material B.C.
The new contract provides a few options to municipalities, including Multi-Material taking on recycling operations, and allowing interested municipalities to continue running their own recycling programs as a contractor.
"I think the City of Burnaby has had a pretty extensive, pretty sound recycling practice over the years, and being that the province is proposing a new way of how we recycle, I think we want to make sure that what goes forward is in the best interest of the taxpayers," Coun. Dan Johnston said at the Sept. 9 meeting.
Cities across the board are worried that the new recycling organization won't meet the same level of service municipalities currently offer.
"I mean, every municipality across the region is rejecting what the province is doing. They're not happy with this contract," Mayor Derek Corrigan said. "The contract is entirely one-sided. It's been built for the benefit of big business."
Corrigan said the contract is putting municipalities in a situation where they have to choose between the concept of product stewardship and being fair to the taxpayer.
"When you see right across the region, municipality after municipality rejecting the terms of this contract – not the concept of product stewardship, but rejecting the contract because it's so one-sided that no city in good conscience can sign it - I think that's the serious problem, and we need to put pressure on the appropriate ministers that someone has to come to the table and negotiate a contract that the municipalities can live with and this one is not it."
The cities are concerned the rates the new recycling organization has to offer municipalities that continue to do their own recycling are far too low and will not meet current level of service.
"I mean, it's a dog's breakfast, and we need to get that resolved and to look at the advice received by every city across the region being that you can't sign this contract. It shows you that something is wrong, and I was reading ... that Prince George has already rejected it wholeheartedly," Corrigan said. "And the contract is so one-sided, Prince George won't have anything to do with it, and I think that's the response of all of the municipalities so far."
Meanwhile, Allen Langdon, managing director of Multi-Material B.C., has stated that the $110 million printed paper and packaging recycling system starting in May 2014 will reduce costs for municipalities across the province.
"This is a positive development for local governments," Langdon states in an online article posted on the organization's website. "As industry takes on the management of end-of-life paper and packaging, municipalities are relieved of a significant cost and administrative burden."
The not-for-profit organization has been planning and consulting local governments for the last two years, and many local governments have already opted in to the contract.
"Where municipalities or regional districts have expressed concerns, (Multi-Material B.C.) has engaged in further dialogue and recently amended our standard contract to clarify specific sections based on feedback from local governments," he said.
Langdon maintains that the program involves a shift in end-of-life management responsibility and costs to industry.
Burnaby council also authorized staff to notify Multi-Material B.C. of its "qualified acceptance" for the new contract.
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