The District of Houston is committed to finding a better solution as to how recycling is handled in the community, Mayor Shane Brienen said at council’s Nov. 7 meeting.
He made the comment following presentations made by three residents who said having to drive out to the Bulkley-Nechako regional district’s Knockholt dump is not only inconvenient but unworkable.
“I don’t know what business analysis was ever done to decide that it was more feasible to have [recycling] bins located at Knockholt versus town but I’d be interested,” Sherri Wright told council during the public input portion of the meeting.
“Aside from the fact it is very inconvenient to have to do that drive, 22 kilometres, the facilities out there are not adequate,” she said.
And for the times she has made the trip, Wright said she found the bins to be full.
“I think there’s a whole lot of stuff is going to be going into the landfill as a result,” she continued.
Wright was followed by Bill Hiebert who said the dump location is not workable for senior citizens, particularly in the winter months.
“It’s not the easiest thing to do, driving the heck out there with all the logging trucks on the highway,” he said.
Angelique Houlihan followed Wright and Hiebert, saying having just one person out at the regional district’s Knockholt site isn’t productive.
She wondered why the District could not find a location or even use land it already owns as a spot, even if temporary.
“We’re lucky to have recycling and the opportunity to do so but the placement of it is a big deal,” Houlihan said.
Brienen acknowledged the comments, saying that the Knockholt site was a last resort after both the District and the regional district, whose mandate includes recycling, could not find a more suitable spot.
He said he appreciated the difficulties of driving the dump road in the winter as it is also being used by logging and other industrial vehicles.
Recycling had been set up at the bottle depot in the industrial site but that business found that beside deposit containers and electronics, it was not economically feasible to take in other material, Brienen said.
“We were subsidizing that recycling to a point but it came to a point they don’t want to have it at all,” he said.
One suitable site turned out to be too small because of the District’s installation of bulk water and bulk sewage handling facilities while residents near the old dump site behind the secondary school were concerned material would blow around, Brienen added.
“So we were just at the point something had to be done so it ended up out at the regional district [site] and that’s definitely not the end of it,” he said.
“We have the same concerns that if we don’t have recycling, [people] will just end up putting it in their garbage and that will fill up the landfill quicker,” Brienen said.
Two Bulkey-Nechako regional district representatives appeared as delegates and fleshed out Brienen’s explanation.
Alex Eriksen said the regional district is aware of the condition of the dump road but that it falls under the responsibility of the provincial transportation ministry.
He said the regional district did try to find land within Houston for a transfer station and recycle depot only to find availability decreased and prices increased when Coastal GasLink set up shop to construct its natural gas pipeline.
“So the plots of land in the industrial site we thought were suitable were no longer available,” he said.
Eventually, the regional district found itself backed into a corner with the result being the move out to Knockholt, Derksen concluded.
“The landfill is not the ideal location. We know that and we’re working with the council in the District of Houston to maybe find other options,” he said.
The second regional district official, Janette Derksen, said the regional district staff member at Knockholt is new and will gain experience as time goes by.
“So we hope that the full bins the public is experiencing will be minimized,” she said.
She said sea-cans moved to the location are considered a temporary solution and that a large canvas cover to be installed later this month is portable and can be moved when a permanent recycling spot is found.
Councillor Lisa Mueller did wonder why members of the public were never asked about suitable locations.
“Sometimes, you know, the public has some great ideas as well,” she said in a question to Eriksen.
He said a public consultation would only come about in asking for opinions once the regional district found a location.
“So with no options we really had no consultation to do,” he said of the so-far unsuccessful search.