P&M owner wary of city’s blue bin scheme

The owner of P&M Recycling says he has concerns about the city's plans for a mandatory curbside recycling program.



The owner of P&M Recycling says he has concerns about the city’s plans for a mandatory curbside recycling program.

Pat McInroy, who has run the company for 17 years, said the City should let the private sector continue what it’s already doing.

“I’ve worked with the Blue Box people since its inception,” he said.

“They’ve been out there for two years, they’ve worked hard and they’ve created a market where there was none.

“I don’t know if it (a City-run program) can work.”

McInroy was referring to the Whitehorse Blue Bin Society, a company that already offers curbside pick-up of all household recyclables every two weeks for $20 a month.

They pick up recycling from about 800 customers in every Whitehorse neighbourhood, which is then brought to Raven Recycling and processed.

Until December those recyclables were brought to P&M’s warehouse, located next to the parking lot of the City’s Municipal Services Building.

But because of a zoning dispute with the City, the company can no longer bring its recyclables there.

McInroy said he was sad to tell the Blue Bin society he had to stop taking its material. He said the City’s proposed plans have prevented Blue Bin from expanding.

“They keep throwing the idea out there, pulling it back and throwing it out there,” McInroy said.

“I think without that, the Blue Bin people could have grown even further.”

Blue Bin’s president, Fraser Lang, echoed McInroy’s thoughts at a city council meeting last week.

He said it was difficult for his company to grow knowing that it could shut down if it’s out-bid for the contract by a company from Outside.

“Our mission is to expand and we need infrastructure to do so, but we can’t do it in the current climate,” Lang said last week.

The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce has also expressed support for the Blue Bin Society, stating the City hasn’t done enough consulting with the private sector.

McInroy said he’s also concerned with the monthly cost the City keeps floating around for the curbside program, which has been estimated to be about $15 a month.

Without having seen the request for proposals, it’s impossible to know who will cover the infrastructure costs, he added.

“The Canadian dollar was a bit stronger back then,” he said, referring to November 2014, when the curbside recycling program was first publicly discussed at a city council meeting.

“If you’re making this mandatory at $15 or $20 a month, there are a lot of homes with only two people who aren’t producing that much material. All services should have value.

“If there’s a price tag and people think it’s a good idea, then they’ll choose it.”

McInroy spoke as a delegate at Monday evening’s council meeting to defend himself in the zoning dispute.

The issue began in 2012 when the City became aware McInroy was using the building for recycling activities.

The City sent a letter to McInroy informing him recycling in the area was not allowed, as the lot is designated mixed-use residential and commercial.

The City also received numerous complaints about the property. Nearby residents such as Chris Isaak, who also spoke at Monday’s meeting, say noise and dust from traffic in the area has become unbearable.

The fire prevention officer has also expressed concerns about the building’s sprinkler system, which isn’t adequate, and the outdoor storage area, which is in close proximity to overhead powerlines.

In November 2015 the City issued an order stating McInroy had to shut the warehouse down and all material had to be removed by Jan. 15, 2016.

McInroy has applied to have the City’s Official Community Plan amended so the lot can be designated industrial instead.

Doing so has allowed McInroy to keep the warehouse open until at least 30 days after the Official Community Plan amendment process has been completed.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Pat Ross, manager of planning and building services with the City of Whitehorse, recommended that city council defeat the bylaw at first reading next week.

He said he’d spoken to McInroy about potentially moving to another location in Whitehorse, such as Marwell, but it would be difficult to find both suitable land and a building in that area.

McInroy said shutting the warehouse down would be a “huge loss.”

“Having that space has allowed us to deal with much more material that’s coming in, mostly because of the City’s goal of diverting 50 per cent of waste from its landfill by end of 2015,” he said.

“I’ve served Whitehorse and its residents very well for the past 17 years. I don’t really have any options (if the warehouse closes). It’s not really a hypothetical situation I want to entertain right now.”

If the amendment to the Official Community Plan passes first reading at next week’s meeting, a public hearing will be held on Feb. 22.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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