Universal waste collection service flies in face of common sense

Our board representatives need to listen to their constituency

Universal waste collection service flies in face of common sense

I was one of several hundred people from the south end who attended the CVRD’s open house on the draft solid waste management plan on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Cobble Hill Hall. A few things struck me about the verbal and graphical information provided:

• There were informational boards around the room as well as boards soliciting feedback. Unfortunately, the questions posed on the feedback boards were worded either very ambiguously or in a leading manner. Attendees were to stick blue dots on a column to either support or not support the statement. As we know, it’s possible to ask a question about nearly anything in such a way that it results in the answer you’re looking for. The questions posed were neither clear nor fair.

• The CVRD representatives attempted to make a case for “universal curb-side collection” which by all outward appearance is their preferred outcome. I took the opportunity after the presentation to ask for a definition of universal service but was not given a concise answer. Apparently it can either mean mandatory collection which becomes part of our tax bill; or it can mean collecting waste, organics, and recyclables universally- i.e. at the same time.

• The draft plan written by a consulting firm- which is over 200 pages in length- is available on-line in PDF format. Believe it or not I took the opportunity to read this document. Throughout it the mantra is oft repeated that universal service results in reduced waste. However, unless I missed something, there is no reference made to documentation supporting this claim. One would think such a pivotal piece of information would at least be footnoted in the report.

I went to this meeting with an open mind, but the cumulation of the above leads me to suggest that our board representatives need to listen to their constituency present at this meeting and reject any recommendation from CVRD that mandates universal service in such as way as to eliminate the highly effective, affordable, and responsible service we now receive from an independent provider.

If the board buys in to the idea that we need to mandate collection, they need to do so in a way that preserves the qualities we’ve come to appreciate and value from our current provider. The best way to do that, I think, is to retain the system we have, and to not design a system that precludes small providers structurally.

The notion that universal service somehow reduces waste flies in the face of common sense. Anyone who has lived in a municipality that requires mandatory garbage service knows the disincentives that come with having a can there to fill, when filling it to the brim won’t cost you any more than reducing or reusing.

If you agree with me, will you make your opinion known to your area director? They will be voting on whether to accept this plan before the fall elections and it’s important they know how their constituents feel about this important issue. As well, the period for public comment closes on Friday 14th Sept. Please make your opinion known on line today at


Chris Koehn

Cobble Hill

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