The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce has expressed concern over the City of Whitehorse’s plans to move ahead with a curbside recycling program.
“The current approach adopted by the City negatively impacts a business already providing a residential Blue Bin curbside program by interfering and creating uncertainty in the market,” wrote the chamber’s chair, Lesley Cabott, in a news release last week.
Cabott 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.
Whitehorse city council wants to implement its own curbside recycling program that would service 5,800 homes and charge ratepayers about $15 a month, a cost that would cover both collection and processing of recyclables.
Last week, members of city council voted to issue a request for proposals for the program. At the same meeting, Blue Bin’s president, Fraser Lang, said the city’s plans undermined his company’s ability to grow.
“It’s hard for us to invest in infrastructure to expand our business with the possibility that we could shut down at any time,” he said at the time, expressing concerns the company may shut down if it’s out-bid 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.”
In the letter, the chamber acknowledges the need to change the current recycling environment – but it also urges the City to work in partnership with the business community to find solutions.
It states the City hasn’t done enough consulting with the private sector. Doing so would “facilitate a broader examination of options without disrupting the market,” the letter states.
“One of the ways they’re consulting is asking companies to spend thousands of dollars on responding to a request for proposal,” Cabott said in an interview today.
“I think there are options out there.”
In past meetings, Mayor Dan Curtis, as well as other members of the City’s administration, have said they’ve consulted with the private sector on a number of occasions.
Issuing a request-for-proposal is the City’s way of seeking more information from the private sector, Curtis said last week.
“We need to wait and hear back from the private sector to determine the details of the program and how much it’ll cost. Then, we can discuss it, open it to the public and move forward,” he added.
When asked about it last week, Lang confirmed he’d taken part in request-for-information sessions with other local businesses.
The chamber’s letter echoes the feelings of Councillor Samson Hartland, who voted against the request for proposal last week for similar reasons.
“I become concerned whenever the City looks to do something that the private sector is already doing effectively,” he said two weeks ago.
Cabott said a member of the chamber put forward an interesting idea that could replace the City’s curbside recycling program.
The member suggested the City could offer residents a rebate towards their utility bill if they could show proof of enrollment in a private curbside program.
“If you’re already doing the work yourself (bringing recycling to local processors) then you shouldn’t have to pay,” Cabott said.
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