Ladysmith recycling depot will undergo major upgrade

Almost $1 million in gas tax funds will help upgrade the Peerless Road recycling depot into a state-of-the-art facility.

Recycling depot worker John Rutski (far left) and Jason Adair

Recycling depot worker John Rutski (far left) and Jason Adair

Recycling in Ladysmith is going to get a whole lot greener, thanks to $950,000 in federal and provincial gas tax funds that will transform the Peerless Road recycling depot into a state-of-the-art facility.

The vision includes a new scale house, up to 16 new bays, an educational component, and the removal of 40,000 tonnes of ash from the site as the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) works towards its Zero Waste mandate.

Ida Chong, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, was at the depot Friday to make the announcement along with CVRD Area G Director Mel Dorey, and Mayor and CVRD Chair Rob Hutchins.

“Our community loves this centre — they actually love it ,and it’s very busy,” Hutchins said. “However, it doesn’t meet all our needs, and this $950,000 gift, this sharing of other forms of revenue to local communities, is fabulous for us.”

According to Chong, the project will remove approximately 500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Just the fact that it is going to be a recycling centre means you’re going to be able to increase the amount of recycling in this area, you’re also going to therefore increase waste diversion, which is what we all want to do in our lives,” Chong said. “It’s a great project … it will be one that I think the community will warmly welcome because everybody is looking to do their part.”

Before the CVRD can proceed with any plans for the new facility, an environmental assessment needs to be completed on the ash fill on the site, created by the now-decommissioned incinerator that was shut down about 14 years ago.

“The sad story is we loved it because it was so convenient,” Hutchins said. “We didn’t know the damage we were causing, or we ignored the damage we were causing.

“I sincerely believe, and I don’t have any scientific evidence for it … that one of the reasons we have a higher cancer rate in our area is because of the pollution that was caused by the batch burner.”

Jason Adair, superintendent of CVRD Solid Waste, said he anticipates staff will be able to present details to the regional district board by July, and he hopes to start work before the end of the year is out.

The Peerless Road depot sees approximately 300 users per day and accepts materials such as metal, wood, refuse and batteries. It has recently started accepting styrofoam.

The site currently uses large metal bins, and it can be harder for the elderly to lift heavy materials into them.

Currently, the CVRD sends its landfill material to Washington State to be disposed of.

“It’s wrong; it’s $3 million of money we’re sending out of area and country, and so this [project] is going to help reduce that significantly,” Hutchins said.

The Canada Gas Tax Fund provides long-term funding to local governments and other organizations to help them build and revitalize public infrastructure.

While $600,000 of the Peerless Road funds will come from the federal gas tax fund, the remaining $350,000 comes from the provincial tax fund.

In B.C., provincial gas tax funds are administered through the Union of B.C. Municipalities [UBCM].

A committee of three UBCM members, as well as both a federal and provincial representative, decide where to allocate the funds.