The funding will go towards buying wildlife-resistant curbside carts, kitchen collection bins and an education program. (File photo)

The funding will go towards buying wildlife-resistant curbside carts, kitchen collection bins and an education program. (File photo)

Fernie gets $176k to kickstart organic waste collection program

$176,001 will come from the province for a curbside organic waste collection program

The City of Fernie has secured the funding it sought for an organic waste curbside collection program.

$176,001 will come from the province’s Clean BC Organic Infrastructure and Collection Program to purchase 2,230 wildlife-resistant 120l curbside collection carts, 2,230 kitchen collection bins, and a communication and educational outreach program in a bid to divert organic waste from landfill.

The city will provide the balance of the funds for the project, which according to city documents is estimated to cost $264,000.

The city funds will come from the Community Works Gas Tax Reserve fund.

Speaking before the city council in December last year when the application for the provincial funding was approved by councillors, city staff estimated that with the inclusion of a city-wide composting program, the municipal garbage collection utility fee would increase from $164.52 to around $180 per year per household.

While the provincial funding is secured, there may be a wait before Fernie residents get an organics collection bin of their own, with the roll-out of the program on hold until further planning is complete.

“The long and short of it is we don’t have a firm start-date yet,” said the city’s acting director of operations, Mark Rowlands, explaining that the city still had work to do on planning and contracting, while recent storms had ‘taken priority’.

“I look forward to this project and have deep experience in this regard, having designed such systems for the City of Vancouver and Whistler,” he said.

READ MORE: Fernie (hopefully) dives into composting

When it is rolled out, the organics program will tie in nicely with the Elk Valley organics processing facility to be built within the District of Sparwood, which would accept organics from throughout the Elk Valley.

In May 2021, Elk Valley directors within the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) voted to support the construction of a $499,740 sub-regional organics processing facility, with $333,160 coming from the province, and the remainder to be covered by a $166,580 five-year loan secured by the RDEK.

The facility, which is one of three within the RDEK, is due to begin construction sometime in 2022, and will be located at the Sparwood Transfer Station.

According to an RDEK spokesperson, the regional district is currently undertaking review of the Sparwood site to gather information for a tendering package. The project will go out to tender in early 2022, and depending on tendering outcomes and contractor availability, will proceed with construction shortly afterwards.

According to RDEK estimates, over a quarter of the 8,715 tonnes of waste generated in the Elk Valley each year is organic. The organics processing facility would capture on a fraction to begin with, but that would increase as organics collection programs – like the one in the City of Fernie – come online.

READ MORE: Elk Valley to move ahead with local organics processing facility
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