Plea to the Regional District of Nanaimo to support the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

Pictured: Ian with a piece of Styrofoam; Photo credit: Terry Lee Wagar

RDN presentation March 25, 2014

25 years ago the NRE led all of us into becoming one of the most progressive communities in Canada. They inspired us to do more. As you know the letters, petitions and phone calls to you Directors indicate the importance of this community leader.
Unfortunately the previous staff report on the value of the NRE failed to capture its true value.
   1)   As is the practise in solid waste management, the weight of the materials the NRE diverts from the landfill was reported to be very small. (Show Styrofoam). This material represents up to 20% of the volume of landfills, yet weighs way less than 1% of the total material. If the NRE did not collect Styrofoam our landfill would fill up much more quickly. This is but one example of the visionary leadership of the NRE that we fail to appreciate.
   2)   The NRE is an inspiration to the majority of people living in the RDN. I dare say that Terry Fox is representative of the fight against cancer as the NRE is a representative of the fight against landfilling and the wasting of resources sent there. Sure, if the NRE disappeared we would still recycle in Nanaimo, but quite a bit less. The emotional and visionary loss of the NRE would take us backward and the standard the RDN set for itself would be gone.
   3)   The NRE employs people who would otherwise not be employed, and trains people from many community organisations, including the university. This is a value that needs to be especially picked up by the City of Nanaimo.
   4)   The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is more than a recycling depot. Notice the word “exchange” in its title. I believe this indicates that it is also about recovering resources by reselling goods, putting them back into use rather than being discarded. Sure, there are other second-hand places in town, but note that if they do not accept items they are land-filled, not recycled as they are at the NRE. No other depot in town provides these complementary one-stop services: source separated recyclables, yard waste, and reselling. The NRE is not replaceable.
Cost: If the RDN were to borrow the needed capital, costing us up to $600,000/year, why not take this money from the MMBC income of $1 million/year? That still leaves $400,000 or more a year for five years, then $1 million a year after that! After all, the MMBC money is intended to make us more sustainable.
If we simply borrow the required funds the tax increase would be 1.9%, or about $2 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Most homes would pay an increase of about $4-5 per year –for only five years.
What if this temporary $4 charge were added as a separate line item on our tax bills, clearly showing that it’s going to something so many of us value?
If the NRE were to move to this new site and be able to expand its programs (which the move would allow) then it would once again be a leader. It would become the region’s Resource Recovery Centre. It would take us to Zero Waste without using an incinerator, which the staff have been directed to consider and have begun to talk about in our community. Do you want us to have a garbage incinerator??  We need the NRE to once again lead us into a sustainable future, one that provides far more jobs, economic opportunities, training, and more. I implore you: Give them the tools to inspire us, to take us to authentic zero waste!


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