In the story ‘Regional district considers closing the re-use sheds’ published in the Lakes District News’ Dec. 3, 2014, http://www.ldnews.net/news/284525561.html?c=n, edition, the board of directors of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) had postponed the decision to close the re-use sheds until such time that affected communities were consulted.
The RDBN’s department of environmental services had agreed to hold community consultations before any decision was made regarding the re-use sheds. However, a decision to close the re-use sheds located at all regional district solid waste management facilities was announced Sept. 8, 2015, prior to any consultations.
Janine Dougall, Director of Environmental Services for the RDBN, said community meetings were planned to be held in the fall. However, due to the “serious nature of the latest incidents and the liability to the RDBN taxpayer,” the board of directors chose to close the re-use sheds in advance of the meetings.
According to the RDBN, the re-use sheds were closed due to a number of troubling incidents directly affecting staff and public health and safety. The latest incidents include over 100 used hypodermic needles found in boxes mixed in with children’s toys; live ammunition found in a brown cassette tape brief case; prescription drugs left in a box; and a dirty diaper found thrown in the corner of a re-use shed. In addition, reports have been made regarding members of the public urinating and defecating behind a re-use shed.
Further, the board of directors has directed staff to develop bylaws that would ban salvaging activities at solid waste facilities. The RDBN says that although signage and barriers have been utilized to try to stop people from accessing the stacked wood and metal piles, some members of the public continue to climb the piles to salvage materials.
“Unfortunately, the manner in which the re-use sheds are currently being operated is not working and is posing serious health and safety risks for RDBN staff, volunteers who are trying keep the facilities clean, and the public who utilize the re-use sheds,” said a press release.
Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, who voted against the closure of the re-use sheds, said he hopes the regional district’s board of directors can find a solution to reopen the re-use sheds in the near future.
“The board of directors needs to hear why the re-use sheds are important for our communities,” he said. “The board also needs to work with communities to find solutions that mitigate the risk for individuals that make use of the re-use sheds and for the employees working at the transfer stations.”
When asked if the re-use sheds closure was temporary or permanent, Dougall said this decision is at the discretion of the RDBN’s board of directors. Investigations are being conducted regarding alternative re-use programs and economically viable solutions to address the health and safety concerns associated with operation of the re-use sheds. Dougall said the RDBN is looking into how best to promote re-use activities on a broader scale than just the re-use sheds.
“It is hoped that the public engagement process regarding the issues occurring will generate ideas and suggestions from the public that the RDBN can then consider and investigate more fully,” said Dougall.
The RDBN will hold a community meeting in Burns Lake on Oct. 21, 2015. Meanwhile, the re-use sheds will remain closed.