The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District has decided not to add a roadside waste collection in the Alberni Valley’s rural areas after receiving feedback from rural residents.
The ACRD launched a public engagement process in January 2022 to gain feedback from residents in the Alberni Valley’s four electoral areas (Beaufort, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek and Sproat Lake) about a potential three-stream waste collection service that would pick up garbage, recycling and organics. Most rural residents currently rely on private waste collection.
Jodie Frank presented the initial results from community engagement to the Alberni Valley and Bamfield Services Committee meeting on Feb. 24. She said the in-person open houses had more than 100 participants and a survey received 1,288 responses.
Opposition to the waste collection service ranged between 68 percent and 84 percent, while support ranged between 15 percent and 31 percent. Residents expressed concerns about bears and wildlife, long driveways and rural road conditions.
“The majority of the respondents are not supportive of a three-stream collection service at this time,” Frank summarized. “Based on the results and community feedback, staff does not recommend further work on the option to provide a roadside waste collection service to the electoral areas at this time.”
A number of misconceptions about the public enagement process surfaced in January, including a rumour that the regional district had already decided to go through with waste collection in rural areas. This led to several residents petitioning for a referendum.
John McNabb, committee chair and Beaver Creek director, said on Feb. 24 that the process could have been more clear about the ACRD’s intentions and objectives.
“It really seemed that our purpose and the understanding of our purpose were two completely different things,” said McNabb. “That’s what became problematic.”
ACRD CAO Daniel Sailland agreed that it was a learning process.
“The more outreach and dialogue we do, the more we’ll build up trust in the community,” he said.
McNabb noted that there are some people in the rural areas who do need an organics collection service, even if it’s a minority.
“I think we really need to focus on the solution to that in the long-term,” he said.
Frank said that the ACRD could instead explore a “subscription-based” waste collection service for electoral areas, where residents can opt in or out based on their needs. This would take place through a private hauler.