A few illegal garbage dumpers have ruined the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s neighbourhood recycling bin program for everyone.
"That’s the end of the program," said the CVRD’s Jason Adair, referring to the closure of the seven unstaffed locations around the Cowichan Valley where people have been able to take their recyclables since the early 1990s.
The bins, following years of arson and other vandalism, will be hauled away as of May 19.
"We’ve had several fires," Adair said, noting Halloween is a particular problem. "People spray paint them all the time."
The program originally started with 13 locations, however all but seven of the sites that host the bins had already asked to leave due to the trash dumping, vandalism and loitering issues the bins were causing, said Adair.
"It’s unfortunate," said Adair. "A lot of people do use it appropriately. But there are some people that are choosing to dump their sofas and their beds and their pianos and oil."
But what has finally brought the axe down on the program for good are the costs associated with the illegal dumping.
"The program was becoming unmanageable," Adair said, explaining that their processor was looking to double their fee from $100,000 to $200,000 because of all of the contaminants in the recyclables.
"The processor has outright refused some material at times because it’s so contaminated," he said.
Further, because the company that does their hauling was having to bring an extra bin to take away the garbage littered around and inside the bins, they were also looking to double their fee.
There were also complaints both from the public and the host sites about people loitering around the bins in a bid to collect anything that might have value before it was recycled. People looking to drop items off sometimes felt intimidated, Adair said.
Maurice Gaudreault of Country Grocer at Valley View Centre in Cowichan Bay said the bins that have been located at the centre haven’t bothered them at all, but he can see the CVRD’s point of view, as he’s certainly noticed the issues with people dumping their trash at the site.
"Unless you’re going to hire somebody to watch them 24/7 it’s not going to stop," he said.
However, on the whole, Country Grocer found the bins were good for business.
"It brought more traffic into the store," Gaudreault said.
It’s unfortunate that the program has come to this, acknowledged Adair.
"There was a lot of good material in there, but when it gets covered in oil and just broken glass or windows, it just contaminates all the good stuff that’s in there. The majority use it very well. They go there with their cardboard and they separate it and they try really hard and then just one or two per cent can have the negative impact," he said.
People will now have to rely on their curbside collection, and the three CVRD recycling centres at Bings Creek in Duncan, Peerless Road in Ladysmith, and Meade Creek.
For more information, go to www.cvrd. bc.ca