Greening Up Fort St. James (GUF) is “rising from the ashes.”
The non-profit society saw years of hard work go up in smoke in May when a suspected arson destroyed the Integris Recycling Centre one month after the grand opening.
But now, the group once again has recycling bins.
The bins for mixed paper and cardboard are back in place behind the ambulance building and next to the bottle depot.
The bins are a first step in becoming operational again, allowing the group to transition back into their new building, currently under construction.
The new building will have some changes to make it a bit more fire-resistant, and will be located in the same spot.
“We’re back on track,” said Louise Evans-Salt, a GUF board member.
She said the organization is now hoping to move forward with a focus on working with partners to become more sustainable. They are currently in talks with a potential industry partner on potentially back hauling some of their fiber for them.
The group is going to have to focus on finding partners because their current funding only goes until the end of 2013, but Evans-Salt said they are confident they will work on finding a solution.
“Certainly through this whole process, what we’ve come to understand is there’s … a tremendous amount of support,” she said.
While the loss of the building was and is a huge blow, it has brought them some growth as well.
“Certainly there were points where all of us were thinking ‘God, do we really want to do this?’” she said. But since the tragedy, the group had to dig deep to find the resources to come back.
“Our commitment is stronger, our structure is stronger,” she said. The way the group operates has changed slightly, with more involvement from board members, and more members from the community, and due to lack of funds, they are relying less on the leadership of the Recycling Coordinator.
While there is still a funding shortfall for the rebuild, the group is hopeful they can move forward.
“So, we’re rising from the ashes,” she said. However, with funding being short, the group is stressing the importance of proper sorting and recycling etiquette for the community, as more time spent removing contaminants or flattening cardboard mean the group spends more money.
Paper and cardboard must be clean and flattened. Other items in the bins or bales leads to lower prices for their product.
Households and businesses relying on Imperative Recycling for their pickup of recyclables have not seen a loss of service while GUF was inoperative, and Imperative Recycling will now be able to operate normally.
GUF is also looking into trying to apply restorative justice to the case of the four young men charged with burning down their building.
The organization would like to be able to see the young men accountable for their actions while at the same time providing closure for those who were so significantly impacted by the loss of the facility.