The Regional District of Nanaimo is setting a budget limit on the amount of help it is providing to non-profit charities with their garbage fees.
At present, four organizations — Salvation Army (Nanaimo and Parksville), Society of Organized Services District 69 (SOS), Nanaimo Recycling Exchange and the Gabriola Island Recycling Organization — receive waived tipping and hauling fees at the Regional Landfill and Church Road Transfer Station. This has been in place since 1991.
In 2016, the total cost of the program was $80,798, which accounted for 520 tonnes of material, and the budget for 2017 is expected to go up to $88,680 with more than 590 tonnes of material projected.
The RDN funding covers the cost of commercial bins they provide and the associated hauling and disposal fees for all materials for the four organizations, including unsellable items from their thrift stores.
The Solid Waste Management Committee has directed staff to review the relief program as it does not have a mechanism to limit the cost generated each year.
Staff interviewed representatives from the four groups to determine site-specific issues such as; illegal dumping, donation of unsellable material, infrastructure challenges, barriers to recycling, and options to reduce disposal costs.
Their findings showed that 20 to 35 per cent of their waste generation is from illegal dumping that occurs regularly at the SOS, Salvation Army locations and at the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange. The material arrives “hidden” in loads and often is dumped illegally after business hours. As well, donations made when the facilities are close result in people rummaging for items, causing damage to goods and rendering them unsellable.
Staff indicated the program participants agree that signage, surveillance and increased public education will help to reduce the amount of illegally dumped material, unwanted donations and detrimental behavior.
Although the RDN has received a number of requests from other registered charities to be included in the fee relief program, the committee decided not to expand it and to restrict it to the four organizations currently covered.
However, there will be a cap on the program’s yearly budget. The committee recommended that, starting next year, only $80,000 will be alloted to the program annually.
“Once the $80,000 is gone, that’s it,” said Alec McPherson, who is the committee chair and Electoral Area A director. “We are hoping they would be a little bit more judicious in what they accept. We recognize that there are issues on how they collect items, particularly after hours. It’s something I guess they would have to address.”
McPherson said the RDN can’t offer the program to other charities because it would be too difficult to monitor the garbage coming out from the donations received.
“As things stand right now, in the case of Sally Ann and SOS, we actually pick it up at their establishment and take it to the landfill. So we’ll know it’s theirs,” McPherson explained.
“When you have smaller organizations and someone comes to the landfill and says, ‘I am with so-and-so registered charity’ or something, you have no idea where it comes from.
“It’s more of an ability to police what actually is happening.”
The Solid Waste Management Committee recommendation will be presented to the committee of the whole for discussion before it is presented to the board for approval.