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Recycling depot petition going to New West city council on Monday

Council to consider community engagement about citizens' recycling needs
Recycling depot
The city's recycling depot, currently located next to Canada Games Pool, is closing in March 2020. The city is launching a public engagement process about citizens recylcing and waste-reduction needs.

Community members who are upset about the city’s decision to close the local recycling depot plan on making their concerns known on Monday.

In response to council’s decisions to close the local recycling depot and partner with the Tri-Cities on a regional facility on United Boulevard in Coquitlam, residents have been signing an online petition urging the city to reconsider its decision. Delegates, many of them wearing green, are planning to attend Monday’s council meeting to present the Don’t Let New West City Hall Put Our Recycling Depot in the Trash! petition, which has been signed by more than 1,300 people.

Along with signing the petition, some residents have posted comments on the online petition website.

“As a resident of New Westminster, I wish to state that I believe city council is making a huge mistake in closing this facility,” wrote Mark Griggs. “I have spoken to many residents who use the current facility and it is my opinion that much of the recycled materials will now end up in the garbage rather than be taken to a new facility outside of New Westminster. Please reconsider your decision.”

Judith Ross also opposed the closure and relocation of the recycling depot. “For the increasing number of us living in Queensborough, it would mean a much longer drive from one end of the city to the other. More traffic, pollution, etc.”

Andrea Dresselhuis said she is “vehemently” opposed to the decision to close the local depot.

“This new proposed location, accessible via cars only, is absolute madness. It’s speaks of a council decision that assumes people have the means to travel to this location and will willingly choose to navigate train crossings, narrow bridges and/or freeways to get there,” she wrote. “The current location is ideal because of how busy the community centre and pool/gym are. In other words people are already commuting to this location for recreative purposes already. It is also easily accessible by bike, on foot and by bus, unlike the proposed location. … It’s not too late to replan and reimagine New Westminster’s recycling depot.”

Christine Clarke wrote that she’s been going to the depot weekly for years to recycling boxes, plastic, batteries, lightbulbs, Styrofoam, glass and other products.

“This is an extremely important little spot that helps greatly for the environment – you can’t tell me the city can’t find this same space somewhere (like behind Canada Games Pool for example or some other spot close by...please find it!!!”

Because of the layout selected for the new aquatics and community centre, the current site doesn’t include space for the recycling depot. The city also expects to save money by participating in a regional facility rather than running its own recycling depot within the city.

While recycling is important, city officials and supporters of the city’s plan have spoken about the need to put more emphasis on reducing and reusing.

On Monday, council will consider a staff report about the relocation of recycling depot services. The report includes a staff recommendation directing staff to undertake additional community engagement in order to determine community waste-reduction and recycling needs as recycling depot drop-off services are transitioned to a new regional recycling facility.

“The city is committed to supporting the community’s waste-reduction and recycling needs and is open to hearing suggestions for new programs and initiatives,” said the report. “Staff are planning to undertake additional community consultation in early 2020, including two open house sessions, intercept surveys at the recycling depot and interactive online polls to gather feedback on barriers and gaps to recycling, suggestions for measures to help address barriers and ideas for waste reduction. These engagement efforts will provide an interactive opportunity for community members to engage with staff and to assist the city in determining what additional programs or services could be initiated to support further waste reduction in the community.”

The New Westminster recycling depot is planning to close in February, but the new Coquitlam Transfer Station at 995 United Blvd. in Coquitlam isn’t expected to open until late 2020. To help bridge that gap, the city is planning pop-up recycling events at Tipperary Park (April 18, Aug. 22, Dec. 12) and at Starlight Casino in Queensborough (June 20 and Oct. 24).

“The new aquatic centre and community centre will be approximately 40 per cent larger than the existing Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre, and it will be necessary to keep these facilities in operation while the new facility is under construction,” said a staff report. “Given there is insufficient space for vehicular circulation and other site constraints, including the presence of a large-diameter regional combined sewer main that traverses the site, it is not possible to accommodate the existing all-weather sports field and recycling depot.”