To say the newspaper industry is challenged would be an understatement. It’s been a long battle with television and radio, and with the more recent rise of social media, publications across the country have faced soaring newsprint prices and slumping ad sales, not to mention the ongoing struggle to maintain readership.
After 115 years in business, The Free Press has managed not only to survive, but to thrive. And yet the challenges keep on coming.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is turning over B.C.’s Blue Box recycling programs to an Ontario based group governed by large multinational corporations. The new system will see companies that sell paper and packaging materials pay a fee to a stewardship program. B.C.’s newspaper industry will be feeling the brunt of it, facing $14 million in additional taxes.
Every paper in the province will suffer. Some may be forced to close, while others may merge or reduce their coverage. Layoffs seem like a necessary possibility.
The regulations that will hit The Free Press on May 19 are all about packaging. But we are not a package. We are a product and an essential part of this community.
The Free Press has been covering Fernie, Sparwood, Elkford, and the South Country since 1898. We have broken hard to hear news like the fire of 1908, countless mine disasters, and child-nappings. We have celebrated and taken photos of every Griz Days, Coal Miner Days, and Wildcat Days ever held.
We are more than packaging and we are more than a product. We are eight people doing our very best to keep the community informed and up to date on every news, community, sports, and arts story as soon as it happens.
And we are not the only ones who will suffer. The new system will impose fees on all businesses – big and small – who will be forced to make cutbacks or raise prices, hurting the consumer. There will be no reduction in municipal taxes to offset costs and the bureaucracy being created to manage the system is huge.
And if you’re trying to figure out what was wrong with the old program, you’re not the only one. It worked well, there was local control, it addressed local priorities, and was fundamentally about environmental stewardship.
The bottom line is this will hurt B.C. residents as a whole. The system MMBC is developing is very costly and will impact jobs and growth in the province.
The only hope is that it’s not too late to turn back. Premier Clark showed us with the HST that she is willing to admit mistakes and right a wrong. If communities, businesses, and individuals across the province continue to voice their concerns on this issue and take a stand, perhaps she will realize it is necessary to re-examine and redevelop a plan that works both economically and environmentally for B.C.