The recycling centre built by the Greening up Fort St. James Society was destroyed by fire in the early morning on Monday.

Phoenix from the ashes…GUF makes plans to rebuild their recycling centre and revamp their strategic plan for the future

Greening Up Fort St. James Society will be rebuilding after a fire destroyed their recycling facility.

“Don’t give up, because we’re coming back bigger and stronger.”

Louise Evans-Salt, spokesperson for Greening Up Fort St. James Society (GUF), gave the announcement recently the group will be rebuilding after a fire destroyed their recycling facility.

The building may even be rebuilt sooner and have less of a financial shortfall than was originally feared.

So far, the group has learned the total cost of a rebuild will be around $90,000, and would include two fire-rated steel doors instead of the wood construction doors the first building had.

They have also learned the concrete slab poured for the building will not have to be demolished and replaced.

“We’re really fortunate we don’t have to replace the slab because that would have been big money,” said Jana Gainor , GUF recycling coordinator.

The demolition and landfilling of the concrete and rebar was estimated in the thousands.

Instead, the slab will only have to be capped to repair some minor gouging which damaged the surface.

The group also saved some money on their cleanup costs thanks to Brad Miller of BAM BAM trucking. Miller generously donated nearly three days of cleanup on the site, which included the use of equipment, a crew and hauling the materials to the dump. Miller also had his staff separating the insulation and wood from the metal roofing in order to recycle the metal.

Gainor said the contribution was huge.

So while the group will still be looking at a shortfall, it appears it may be in the area of less than $10,000, where they previously had worried it could be in the tens of thousands.

As for the time frame to get the new recycling centre built, Gainor said a contractor they have spoken to expects to be able to complete the build within two months of starting it, and would be able to start sooner than she had initially anticipated.

She is hopeful they may be able to get the new building done as soon as the end of August.

In the meantime, GUF is still looking at setting up a temporary site for fibre collection and Riverside Repairs has also offered to help out by donating their property for the temporary facility.

A shelter Riverside erected on their property could house the bailer and recyclable fibre, if GUF can purchase the bailer before the building is completed.

Not being able to accept fibre in the meantime is a concern for the group.

“That’s a challenge and we know that the Fort St. James community has really made a commitment to recycle,” said Evans-Salt.

She hopes people are willing to help to store the fibre for the time being or pool fibre with friends driving through area communities which still have facilities such as Vanderhoof or Prince George.

“Don’t fill up the landfill,” said Evans-Salt, urging people to help the community continue to reduce its waste.

The group met with partners last week, including Mount Milligan, who were just starting a recycling program in partnership with GUF not long before the facility burned.

The group is now looking at updating their strategic plan to adjust for the setback and to see where they should go from here.

“How do we grow the recycling initiative, how do we prevent another setback or crisis,” said Evans-Salt.

Along these lines, the group held a public meeting at the public library last week, getting input from the community on what they would like to see from the group, and they also hope to increase membership and raise further funds through a membership drive.

“Finances is a big issue,” said Evans-Salt. “We’re definitely going to have to increase our funding base.”

As a volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization, the group will now be working to make up the shortfall for the cost to rebuild through various fundraising efforts.

While the news is good the group will be able to rebuild, there are still going to be some hurdles, as the fire has set the group back significantly from where they had hoped to be.

Aiming to make themselves self-sustaining within two and a half years of starting the building with the funding they had in place, the fire will likely set the group back a year.

“Basically, it gives us less time to become self-sustaining,” said Gainor.

By the end of 2013, the group will need enough money to continue to operate. This may also be impacted by the new Product Stewardship legislation which will come into effect, changing the structure of recycling in the province. But no one is yet sure exactly what the legislative changes will mean in practice.

Previous stories on the fire and GUF:

Arson investigation into recycling centre fire

Fire destroys recycling centre

Fort gets greener for Earth Day


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