The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako will be putting more effort into solid waste management, according to Electoral Area A Director Stoney Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg was a speaker at last week’s Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at Pioneer Place. He, along with Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach and Telkwa Mayor Carman Graf, were giving an outlook of 2012 to attendees.
“The big thing for the regional district this year is we did some strategic planning last week and it looks like it’s going to be solid waste management,” he told the crowd.
That plan will mean recycling and stewardship programs.
He said that while this end of the valley has been working hard on solid waste management for a long time, it took the regional district board awhile to all get on the same page.
“Looks like everybody else is starting to come on board,” he said.
As it is, solid waste management is the single largest line item on the local government’s budget.
“So we pay a lot of money to put stuff in the ground and we have to get away from that,” said Stoltenberg.
He pointed to flaws in current provincial stewardship programs. Namely in the fees people pay on electronics at purchase. That money, meant to go towards recycling the product at the end of its life, usually doesn’t find it’s way back to northern communities.
That’s because, said Stoltenberg, economies of scale doesn’t work well in the north and so a lot of products are being buried, putting the burden of cost on tax payers.
“That’s one of the things that we’re going to have to work really hard at this year, to get these stewardship programs in place in the north, so we can get rid of these items that we pay for when we buy them,” he said.
Progress has already been made on that front. Smithers’ recycling depot at the corner of Frontage Road and Victoria Drive, is accepting personal electronics now.
In other regional district news, he said that, now that a 9-1-1 committee isn’t needed anymore — 9-1-1 came to the regional district last year after nine years of effort — the regional district has a Protective Services Committee. He said that’s part of what the regional district is doing as the province requires all governments to have an emergency preparedness plan. They will look at things like flood mitigation and fire-smarting properties.
In Bachrach’s presentation, he talked about a few projects the Town of Smithers is wrapping up, including the cistern at the airport and the conclusion of the Storm Sewer project, and a few other things the Town is doing.
That includes going paperless at council meetings. He said that council is working to reduce and eliminate the paper councillors use for meetings. While they will mean less paper used, it will also mean an accessible and searchable database of projects and meeting agendas for the public to search if they wish. That would be available on the Town’s website.
Bachrach, a former Village of Telkwa councillor, also stood behind Carman Graf and his community’s recycling project.
Graf, in his presentation, talked about the Village’s new garbage cart system — people now require a special garbage cart if they want their garbage picked up — and also the pilot project for curbside recycling.
“I was quite skeptical about it but I have to say I am quite amazed at the response,” said Graf.
The pilot project has been extended in 2012.
Bachrach called the project an inspiration for other communities.
“I think they’re probably the first northern B.C. municipality to have curbside recycling,” said Bacrach. “This is a real piece of leadership that I think we can all learn a lot from.”
He noted that many people in Smithers are surprised that the town doesn’t have its own curbside recycling.
Graf’s other items of note included a focus for the Village to look at expanding drainage in the community.
“There are some parts of the Village that have some serious drainage problems and we want to address those this year,” said Graf.
He also pointed to a need for a new water reservoir in the Village to increase capacity.