Loon Lake people want discussion

Dear Editor

Thank you for the article in the April 11 Journal about the closure of the Loon Lake Road Transfer station to bulky recyclable items.

I would like to clarify that the recyclables under discussion are scrap metal, large cooling appliances like refrigerators and freezers, tires and yard waste. There is plenty of space at the transfer station for these items and as they are only hauled away once every year or 18 months the cost of dealing with them is very low.

There has NEVER been any consultation or survey of residents regarding closure to recyclables – the only issue discussed with the TNRD has been the change in winter opening days.

A strategy of refusing to take recyclables such as scrap metal and yard waste is not one of the options outlined in the BC Ministry of Environment Guide to the Preparation of Regional Solid Waste Management Plans by Regional Districts. Furthermore we would like to point out that Part 4 section 72 (b) states: “Rural or low density population collection programs should include one or more of the following options:

– Combined collection of garbage and recyclables where garbage collection is carried out;

– Collection from individual households or groups or households, particularly of second-hand or existing equipment is used;

– Collection of recyclables by neighbourhood volunteers or community service group;

– Drop off bins or depots, at convenient locations such as shopping, service and recreational centres, churches, other meeting places, and ALL solid waste facilities, such as transfer stations; and

– Mobile as well as stationary drop-off facilities.”

(My emphasis. nb TNRD – it says “should”, not “may”.)

NONE of the above options will be available once the transfer station is closed to the bulky recyclables and yard waste. The only approach taken by the TNRD is to refuse to accept their responsibility to deal with the waste, to refuse to enter into meaningful dialogue with residents to find alternate solutions that work, and to leave the individual and volunteers in the community to deal with managing waste.

At this point residents of Loon Lake Road have over 24 different recyclable items not accepted at the transfer station which must be kept separate and driven all over the TNRD – Ashcroft, Kamloops or even to 100 Mile – outside the TNRD. Driving a 90 km or more round trip once or twice a week to deposit waste at a distant transfer station is not an option. Surely no responsible governing body would make a decision which would result in residents of a community having to drive ONE MILLION km more a year just to drop off garbage!   There is no vision and no effort at developing innovative partnerships within communities to address the issue of waste and recycling.

Information and statements from the TNRD around this issue are confusing, with conflicting statements made to various media and to individuals in the community. Some statements from staff have been misleading, such as the suggestion that yard waste was “wood waste” and as such was not municipal solid waste and therefore  outside of the mandate of the TNRD.

The TNRD is required to enter into meaningful dialogue with affected stakeholders during implementation phase of the RSWMP, and the residents of Loon Lake Road are asking that this dialogue begin now. It seems that the opinion of the TNRD administration is that there is no need to consult with us until after the decision is made to completely close the transfer station. This means we will have no opportunity to influence the outcome. This shows how little respect they have for people in the community and for the democratic process of consultation.

Meaningful dialogue does not consist of senior staff of the TNRD sitting for several hours at a meeting with the residents in a community and then doing what they had decided to do beforehand. That is not even classed as “consultation” but as “tokenism” and is seen as a misuse of power.

A letter to property owners telling them what has been decided is also not meaningful consultation as there is no opportunity for the citizens to have any influence on the outcome. Such an approach is now being used give legitimacy to the decisions of the administration of the TNRD  and we are of the opinion this does not meet the requirements of meaningful dialogue.

Meaningful dialogue is when community groups and individuals who are affected by decisions can act as partners in a dialogue to find a workable solution before a decision is made.

Barbara Hendricks

President, LLCRAS

Loon Lake Road