The recycling bins at the Grand Forks Fire Hall will be removed once and for all on Feb. 1.
The removal of the bins were deemed necessary with the fire department getting their new truck last summer. Grand Forks Fire/Rescue Chief Dale Heriot said for safety reasons, the truck should be driven in frontwards and not backed into the hall.
“Because of that we would lose some parking spots for the guys so we could have a dedicated lane down the centre so we could bring the engine in,” said Heriot. “The crew members need to be able to park close to the fire hall to ensure a quick response. Every second counts.”
Heriot proposed to council to have the bins removed to allow more parking spots for fire department members. The proposal was accepted and the bins are being removed Feb. 1. Although the fire hall and parking lot are on city property, the bins are owned and operated by the RDKB.
Tim Dueck, RDKB solid waste management coordinator, said the recycling bins at the fire hall would have been removed eventually anyway. “The management of recycling, things we call recycling, has basically become a regulated material under the Environmental Management Act of British Columbia,” said Dueck. “They have said that printed paper and packaging is a material which must be managed by the producer of the material. That came into effect May of 2014.”
Dueck said that at that time the RDKB board of directors chose to keep the status quo with services until they could see how things turned out. “Now that we realize how things are ‘shaking down’ we fully understand that if we are providing services in the form of an unattended bin in the middle of town, we are duplicating services that have been regulated as the responsibility of Multi-Materials of B.C. (MMBC),” he said. “And we’re doing that at the expense of the taxpayer. It’s not productive.”
Dueck did say that there are other services that the RDKB can look into for those services not regulated by MMBC. “That is basically the same materials but they are coming from a commercial source,” he said. “So tin cans, cardboard, plastic, that kind of stuff from a commercial source. It’s something we can provide services for and we’re already providing that at the landfill.”
Dueck reiterated that the people expected to be most inconvenienced by the closure of the bins at the fire hall will be small businesses in downtown Grand Forks. Commercial businesses do not have access to curbside recycling although they can use private contractors if they choose.
“All residents have access to curbside services,” said Dueck. “There are very few residents, a few north of Niagara Townsite and the Granby that don’t have access to curbside but they can access those services (as can all residents) at the landfill.”
The topic of what happens to glass is often brought up when speaking of recycling. As for what happens to glass at the landfill, Dueck said it is a very small amount of their overall service. “It’s less than one per cent,” he said. “According to our garbage composition studies it’s a very small percentage of our waste stream. Even for residents, there’s not a lot of glass in their garbage.”
Dueck said that glass containers are regulated under MMBC and is their responsibility not the RDKB. “They submitted a plan to the province as to how it will be gathered,” he said. “They have said it will be done at depots, because if it is at a co-mingle recycling program such as we have here, it will break and contaminate the rest of the materials. The best way to collect that material, as well as film plastic and styrofoam, is at an MMBC depot, which is at the landfill.”
Another issue with the downtown bins is that they’re unmanned, unlike the landfill. “One of the requirements of a depot is that it is staffed,” said Dueck. “At the landfill there is staff to help people sort at the landfill. The way residents are being asked to recycle in the Boundary is the same as throughout the province.”
He did say that glass collected at unmanned depots is a very dirty glass that has no end use. “It is used as cover and crush for our construction program,” said Dueck. “We call it downcycling. It has a use but it’s very minimal. It’s not really worth the effort in collecting it.”
Dueck said that it is widely agreed that curbside collection service is the most convenient way of collecting material. “People use curbside collection for garbage, for green bins, and for recycling,” he said. “It’s a bit of a natural fit.”
Because they are problematic materials, glass, film plastic and stryofoam are not collected at curbside. “They’re not a big part of the waste stream and so the province has agreed that the best way to collect them is at a staff depot,” said Dueck.
Dueck said he’s only received a handful of calls regarding the removal of the recycling bins.