B.C.’s Blue Box Battle: A Modest Proposal on the Province’s Recycling System

Buckerfields CEO Kelvin McCulloch chimes in again on the province's controversial new recycling plan under MMBC...

  • Apr. 3, 2014 5:00 p.m.
B.C.'s Blue Box Battle: A Modest Proposal on the Province's Recycling System

*The following is a contributed Opinion piece by Kelvin McCulloch – CEO, Buckerfields…

Last weekend, I decided to look up how much Property Tax is collected in the Province of British Columbia. To my amazement, British Columbians paid a total of $7.968 billion dollars last year. Here are more facts:

  • The taxes are paid by everyone in the province with an address, including small businesses, large businesses, manufacturers, utilities, and of course, residential property owners and apartment dwellers
  • The average Property Tax rate for BC businesses is 5.5 times higher than the tax rate for residential taxpayers – because business is expected to pay its share
  • Property taxes pay for schools, hospitals, and services provided by local government, with an emphasis on waste management and recycling.

On top of this, MMBC is trying to collect another $84 million from the remaining handful of businesses including Buckerfields that weren’t lucky enough get the BC Chamber of Commerce/BC Government’s latest exemption. While MMBC’s target represents 1.2 per cent of all of Property Taxes collected last year, we the unlucky, comprise less than two one-hundredths of one percent of tax payers. Anyone know how we are supposed to come up with that much money? Frankly, if the Provincial government knew what it was doing, they would realize it’s not even possible. But they don’t, do they?

Enough complaining. Here is my proposal to fix all this.

First, let’s quickly recognize that economically viable recycling is inevitable because of the growth in global consumerism. As China’s 1.363 billion people discover and embrace North American style consumerism, China will buy every scrap of recycled paper, plastic, metal, wood and everything else that British Columbians throw away to supply the country’s manufacturing processes. India falls into this category. All BC has to do is stand by and watch while normal market forces propel recycling forward. In the not too distant future, global demand for our garbage will eat up everything we throw out and more, recycled or not. And the people who have custody of this resource will be making a lot of money.

In the face of this, if the Provincial government really wants to look good instead of just flogging somebody else’s failed concepts and pandering to people with bad attitudes towards BC business, here is a project that all British Columbians can be proud of.

First, the Province of British Columbia creates a 1% environmental surcharge on Property Taxes to be paid by everyone, businesses and consumers alike. Don’t everybody jump too quickly. That would cost me personally about twenty bucks a year and I would be proud to pay it. It would cost my company about $300 a year and we would be proud to pay it. By spreading the load evenly over the entire tax base, the surcharge would produce about $80 million a year, almost the exact same amount that MMBC is trying to gouge out, and it would be virtually unnoticeable to any single taxpayer.

The legislation creating the surcharge would have a five year sunset clause so that at the end of five years, the surcharge would end. Why? If we can’t get the job done by spending a total of $400 million over five years, then we shouldn’t be attempting this program at all.

The monies would go straight into the Consolidated Revenues fund of the Province and would fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Auditor General, that is, full legislative and public oversight. We would be absolutely assured that the money wasn’t going sideways, unlike the situation with MMBC.

A second bit of legislation would create a Regional Recycling Authority to distribute the monies to local governments. The authority would accept or deny local government applications for funding. Municipalities would have to compete for the funds.  Only the best and most essential recycling projects would be funded. Unlike the situation with MMBC where one person is going around handing out money whether it is needed or not, the expenditures would be optimized in plain sight of taxpayers. Unlike the MMBC situation where three people with dubious corporate connections mysteriously showed up from Ontario to form the agency, the directors of the BC Recycling Authority would be British Columbians with bona fide recycling, local government and finance credentials as well as members of the public.  And OK, the Minister of Environment can appoint them, but do it publicly, eh?

The new Recycling Authority would also be under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Auditor General so we would see independent evaluations of the results. No funny stuff, no wasted money, no overspending, no failure to produce the intended outcomes. Or we would know by the end of each year and we would demand that the situation be corrected.

Finally, there would be a five year sunset clause on the Recycling Authority itself. By then, the job should be done. If not, the government of the day would have to introduce a new Bill into the legislature and we would at least have an opportunity to complain or get rid of it in a democratic manner.

The new Auditor General for Local Government would be invited to focus on waste management and recycling programs at the local government level, to feed information to the new Recycling Authority, publicly. The Provincial Auditor General would report annually or more frequently if necessary.

This system would accelerate recycling while strengthening local governments’ mandates and abilities.  Four hundred million dollars would be pumped in over five years and every dollar would have been raised fairly from businesses and consumers. It would be accounted for properly, reported publicly, evaluated independently by our Legislative and local government Auditors.

At the end of five years, we as a team would have produced recycling systems in BC that would rival anything worldwide.

The cost would have been shared fairly.

At the same time, the fundamental democratic processes we rely on to ensure reasonable taxation, fair play and accountability would have been strengthened instead of what we have now with MMBC.

 

Just Posted

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read