Fort St. James municipal office. (File photo)

ICI recycling services could be carried out in a Community Co-op model, says local business owner

Kat Slorstad of Imperative Recycling calls the district ‘short-sighted’ in their decision to cancel ICI recycling services

Kat Slortstad of Imperative Recycling had expressed interest in continuing ICI recyling services to the district, but as a business owner she says she doesn’t have the capacity to take it over all by herself.

“I do not have the means to do this as a private company and would need to charge astronomical rates to business owners to make any sort of profit, which would not be ideal at this time of ‘economical crisis’ in our small community,” Slorstad told the Caledonia Courier.

READ MORE: Fort St. James cancelling their ICI cardboard recycling program this March

In July 2019, Slorstad bought the Fort St. James bottle depot and has been vocal about the need for more recycling services in the community.

The Courier asked her whether the community should expect a private business owner like herself to take over such a service and Slorstad said she feels the district needs to be more involved.

“I really do not feel this is something a business owner should be expected to do. The Fort St. James district was given the Integris Recycling Centre in good faith by the GUF society, that they would continue ICI recycling operations from this building.”

READ MORE: “Let’s move forward and not backwards,” says Greening Up Fort member

She doesn’t disagree with the decision of making business owners pay for their recycling waste, but by paying their garbage fees to the district, they technically do pay for their waste, she said.

Garbage fees has increased each year since the cardboard ban was implemented, Slorstad said, adding the increase happened despite decrease in the volume that is landfilled. The first year was an exception though, she said.

“I think our mayor and council were trying to wash their hands of this responsibility as a short sighted decision to save money, when technically waste management is their responsibility as is the preservation of our land and green efforts, so although I understand why they made the decision to not pay for this program with tax payer dollars, it is frustrating to say the least, that other solutions weren’t explored first or that business owners weren’t made aware of this situation before voting yes to the closure.”

In terms of solutions, Slorstad said that since she first received the call in July 2019 that the Integris Building would be closing, she has explored countless options on how she would run the service as a private company.

She has looked into funding opportunities, had conversations with stakeholders and knowledgeable professionals, met with local government and more.

READ MORE: Fort St. James may have curbside recycling again

Slorstad said there are “too many partners who I would need 100 percent commitment from’ and that it would be too expensive for business owners.

However, about two weeks ago a Fort St. James district staff member suggested to Slorstad that she look into a Co-op business model, specifically a Community Service Co-op as she had “exhausted all other options and the outcome was looking grim.”

Slorstad has released a letter to business owners or any community members with experience, knowledge or passion on the subject to reach out to her and be part of a steering committee that would implement the Co-op business model.

The Community Service Co-op model would allow members to become owners of the recycling service.

“This model is looked at as a ‘non-profit society’ in the eyes of the government, which would open up funding opportunities, as well as keep the cost low to the business owner.”

“Each member (business owner) will pay an initial lifetime membership fee and then pay a fee for service based on weight of material recycled each week (their cardboard and mixed paper will be weighed when they arrive at the facility) and they will be invoiced each month based on weight. This type of business model will create multiple jobs and open the doors to expand green initiatives in our small community while keeping the costs as low as possible to the business owners.”

Her concern is that there isn’t enough time to implement this model before the Integris building closes down and said it was unfortunate that she didn’t know about this model sooner.

Melany Helmer, chief administrative officer of the district told the Caledonia Courier on Feb. 7 that the district has not made a decision about the Integris building at this time. However, the Jan. 28 notice circulated by the district about the end of ICI recycling service mentions that the Integris building will close at the same time the district ends the service which is March. 31, 2020.

Currently, the Integris building has the capacity to bale loose cardboard and mixed paper.

Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

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