KAMLOOPS — Most residents face a $17 increase to their curbside recycling fee for next year, that brings their total bill to $50 on average per household. That bill could be much closer to zero had the city joined Multi-Material BC two years ago.
"If we were part of the MMBC program, there's a good chance we would not be seeing the large spike [fee increase] in recycling services we have right now," says Streets and Environmental Services Manager Glen Farrow.
MMBC pays municipalities a per-household fee to help the program collect recycled materials, which are then taken to MMBC facilities like Emterra, similar to what the city does now.
The city says under the program, Kamloops would receive a little over $1 million, or $30 per household. That money would cover operational costs, but residents would pay nothing for collection.
"Right now we see that $400,000 to $500,000 gap between revenue and expenses in our budget and that's why the rate increase is needed," says Farrow. "So if we were to insert a significant rebate into that, there would be no deficit, no gap to fill."
In September 2013, less than a year before the Multi-Material BC recycling program came into effect, Kamloops City Council had the opportunity to join, but turned it down in an 8-1 vote.
"We rejected the original open-ended contract that had no real detail in it. Then we tried getting into MMBC and they said 'no, we're too full. We can't take you in,'" says Mayor of Kamloops Peter Milobar. "Frankly, I think the program's been a little flawed from its inception. It started with a guaranteed rate to cities without knowing how much revenue they were going to take in."
Kamloops is one of few municipalities in B.C. not part of the MMBC program. Many communities like Kelowna, Vernon, Quesnel, and Prince George are, and both city staff and Council want to be included.
"The economies of scale would be huge," says Farrow. "Right now we're one of just a handful of communities that aren't under the program, so it's more of a struggle for us in selling these products that we have as well."
For its part, MMBC is waiting for producers, like newspapers, to jump on board. That would give the program the necessary revenue to include other communities like Kamloops.
"We're in the same boat as Kamloops. We're both playing a waiting game. We're waiting for producers, who are obligated under provincial laws to either do their own program or join us," says Managing Director of Multi-Material BC Allen Langdon. "Once they fill that obligation, we'll be able to expand to other communities, and Kamloops is at the top of the list."
But that may never happen, and that could leave Kamloops on the outside looking in for the near future.
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