Hello! In local government garbage and recycling are referred to as ‘solid waste’. There are several aspects to solid waste worth discussing, that’s what this Director’s Report is focussing on. Solid waste questions I’ve been asked include… why is waste pickup erratic; are we paying for garbage pickup on our taxes; and, where is Quadra’s new recycle centre?!

Waste Management (the international corporation) provides weekly pickup service to parts of Quadra through the options of subscription service or orange stickers. Waste Management has told me they prioritize subscriber pickups… so if pick-up reliability is a priority for you, they have subscription options online. Many islanders appreciate the lower cost and incentive to create less waste offered by the sticker system; less dependability is the trade-off, when the company experiences truck or snow issues.

Our taxes have a ‘CS Waste Management’ line item, this refers to Comox Strathcona Waste Management (aka CSWM). CS Waste Management provides solid waste services, specifically landfill and recycling operations, for the Comox Valley and Strathcona Regional Districts. This function is managed by Directors of both regional districts. I’m a member of the CSWM committee, it has given me a fascinating window into garbage!

snowy branches

So, when will Quadra see the promised upgrades to our recycling depot? The plan is to transition to a Recycle BC depot with specific days and hours of operation this spring. The new facility will offer recycling options for Recycle BC materials. At my recent Solid Waste Committee meeting I was told the new facility will be ready for us sometime in May. I’ve got my fingers tightly crossed this timeline will be achieved!

Outer Discovery Islands residents have been inquiring about options to support them with recycling and garbage disposal. I’ve allocated funding in the 2023 budget to investigate what this could look like. And, the study will consider potential supports for ‘northern regions’ of Quadra as well.

Fun fact about the Comox Strathcona Waste Management service: it manages five landfills. The Campbell River landfill is full/closed; it operates a transfer station where solid waste is collected and transferred to Cumberland. The other CSWM landfills are in Tahsis, Zeballos, Gold River & Cumberland (Gold River is an inert landfill only). Landfills are expensive, diversion is the goal. Good news: trucks transferring waste from Campbell River to Cumberland will no longer be travelling back empty, they will be backhauling organic waste collected from Comox Valley residents to the new composting facility in Campbell River.

Food waste (organics) is currently about 30 per cent of the total garbage sent to the regional landfills. Did you know organics (including yard waste) decomposing in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) landfill creates methane, and that methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with ten times the climate effects of carbon? Landfills make such a volume of methane that harvesting ‘landfill gas’ from the Campbell River landfill is an ongoing project of Comox Strathcona Solid Waste. Combatting climate change, another reason composting is awesome.

Snowy ferns

Beach cleanup & diversion of ocean plastics is newly being supported by CSWM’s Ocean Legacy Depot. Ocean debris is collected, sorted and delivered to the mainland to become pellets, paddleboards, Legacy Plastic dimension lumber and more. In the depot’s first year of operation 60 cubic yards of beach debris from Quadra and Denman Islands were processed. Big thank you to Nevil Hand and the Quadra Island Beach Clean Dream Team for their ongoing work collecting ocean debris on Quadra’s beaches!

If you’d like to connect with me, email RMawhinney@srd.ca, or call/ text 250.203.2468.

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney

PS: the photos are by me. Snow is sure fun for spying the footprints of visits by our wild neighbours.