Seems like a done deal in Loon Lake

Dear Editor

It is more than garbage that stinks at the TNRD. On March 17 a group of residents at a meeting of the Loon Lake Road Community Assoc were handed an unsigned note from the TNRD Environmental Health Services (EHS) stating that the transfer station would be closed to bulky recyclables on May 1, 2011.  Also on March 17 Belkorp (BESI), the contractor who has been awarded the contract to manage all TNRD transfer stations, announced that the station would close  as of March 17 to the bulky recyclables. The community challenged Belkorp’s authority to make such an announcement and Belkorp retracted it and said it would remain open until May 1.

For the information of readers outside of Loon Lake Community we pay for our waste and recycling services directly to the TNRD as a percentage of our property assessment. An average household at Loon Lake pays $288 for “waste management” (some pay as high as $500) and have to drive it to the transfer station – for many a 25 km round trip. When we get to the transfer station we must pay a tipping fee as well. Ashcroft  residents pay  an annual fee of $70 while Cache Creek residents pay $39.50 for curb side pickup weekly and recycling bins conveniently located nearby. Extra garbage can be dropped off at the Cache Creek transfer station free of charge. How would you feel if you were handed a note tomorrow that said your garbage collection fees just went up to $288 per year and you had to drive it 25 km to drop it off? Then pay again to dump it! And, oh by the way the politicians and management won’t listen to you when you object to that treatment. That’s where we’re at in Loon Lake.

The TNRD is required and has committed to engage in “meaningful consultation” with affected property owners. It is neglecting it’s responsibilities. One unsigned note handed to a few residents where there are 350 dwelling units and eight resorts is certainly NOT meaningful consultation. On April 1,  while investigating the issue, Peter Hughes, director of the EHS at the TNRD, is recorded as having said to Sandy Hall, journalist for CFJC TV that “Input is being sought on …possible changes.” However no input is being sought. The TNRD is ignoring it’s commitments to the residents to engage in consultation. Instead management staff are engaging in a lot of “miscommunicating output”.

After a protest and a letter writing campaign, the Loon Lake Community Association has been allotted 10 minutes to speak at a TNRD Board Regional Solid Waste Management Plan Committee Meeting on May 11. This is not “meaningful consultation” but is a first opportunity for the community of Loon Lake Road to be heard by some members of the Board. We are asking that no changes take place to the bulky recyclable services until we are able to establish alternative services within the community. To drive the 100 km or more to the nearest transfer station to drop off yard waste would cause a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions as well as consume many extra litres of precious non renewable fuel. We don’t want to burden future generations with paying again for such short sighted decisions. Also we know that some residents will burn the yard waste and this significantly increases the risk of a wildfire at Loon Lake.

On April 14 the TNRD board of Directors passed a motion stating that any changes to the recycling services at the transfer station would be put on hold until after the May 11 meeting. Within a few days of this meeting Belkorp instructed the attendant at the Loon Lake transfer station to tell users that the station was closing to bulky recyclables on May 11. At the same time Belkorp set up a huge new sign at the entrance to the station stating that the transfer station was being closed to bulky recyclables on May 11. When a question was asked at the TNRD Board meeting on Apr. 28 about what the transfer station attendant was telling people, the response from Peter Hughes, Director of EHS, was that it was a “miscommunication”. Within 24 hours a white blank was screwed over that section of the sign stating it was closed on May 11. The words are there under the white blank and it is clear to all at Loon Lake that the sign will be unveiled on May 11 no matter what is said at the committee meeting of May 11. What does this say to you about the attitude toward input being sought on possible changes?

These actions show that the management of the TNRD have no respect for the process of consultation or even for the decisions of the elected Board of the TNRD. The Board acts as first level of government in rural electoral areas. At the same time the management of the TNRD are behaving like dictators, not as a responsible first level of government. A private contractor, Belkorp, is making decisions about closures and communicating information to users that does not reflect the decision of the elected Board. They have signs painted and set up three weeks in advance of a meeting clearly anticipating that what they have decided will be pushed through with no respect for whatever the TNRD Board of Directors may decide on or after May 11. Something smells rotten at the TNRD.

Barbara Hendricks

Loon Lake