Tag Archives: recycling

Royal Oak students raise the bar on recycling – again

Towers of recycling power at Saanich school
Saanich News – June 10, 2013

Recycling isn’t a passing fad at Royal Oak middle school, where students have taken it upon themselves to change the way the school – and the district – manages its waste output.

For four years now, students have taken recycling to the extreme, finding ways to keep paper, plastics and food waste out of the garbage.

The school now diverts 80 per cent of its waste from being tossed in a garbage can, destined for Hartland landfill. Instead, a series of 50 recycling towers are installed around the school

“There’s nothing that the kids or staff bring to school that we can’t recycle or compost,” said Angus Stewart, a teacher at Royal Oak.

Makeshift recycling centres around the school are much more thorough than simply garbage and recycling bins.

The students have different bins for juice boxes, bottles, cans, drink pouches, milk cartons, foam, foil, soft plastic, hard plastic and paper. There are also bins to collect kitchen waste, which is composted and turned into soil.

“The biggest thing that’s happened is the whole feeling around the kids, the teachers, everybody else – they’re now looking for the right place to put something,” Stewart said.

“I hear all kinds of stories of kids getting frustrated going out into the normal environment – malls or parks – and they can’t find the right place to recycle something.”

Royal Oak’s initiative helped the Saanich School District save money. By reducing waste output, they’ve moved from having their garbage collected every week, to once every three weeks.

“Every school in Greater Victoria can now do this. The program we started has been copied by a number of schools,” Stewart said.

Saanich council on Monday was scheduled to reward Royal Oak middle school with an environmental award, as given out annually to Saanich residents and organizations who exemplify what it means to be environmentally friendly.

“What these students are doing is better than what most households and businesses are doing,” said Coun. Dean Murdock, chair of the environmental advisory committee.

“This group of students is setting an example of what’s possible. They set an impressive standard a few years ago, and now they’re doing that again,” Murdock said, referring to the school receiving an Saanich environmental award in 2009.

“When we see schools, and students in particular, taking the initiative for climate action and waste reduction … we know that’s a positive message they’re taking home to their parents, to family and friends.

“And that’s getting conveyed in a way far more powerful than a group of politicians preaching about a new program. These are students taking the initiative to walk the talk.”

Saanich 2013 green award recipients:

-Royal Oak middle school; Green Ridge Crew; Outright Coffee and Tea; Peninsula Streams; Ed, Michelle, Jamie and Jesse Knaggs; and Paul West.

Proposed community recycling centre stalls

Saanich tables recycling depot proposal after neighbours voice concerns
Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Not in their backyards… yet

The difference between a NIMBY and an impassioned group of residents hinges on the ability to justify your position.

The Royal Oak neighbourhood fell into the latter category, after somewhat successfully lobbying council to reject rezoning for a recycling facility proposal on Commerce Circle.

Councillors voted 5-3 to table the application, after a marathon meeting that saw more than 100 people cram into the council chambers and 28 speakers voice concerns over increased traffic, noise and decreased quality of life.

“If this is approved, you’ll be sacrificing our way of life for this facility, and sacrificing our community for this facility,” said a speaker who lives near the proposed site.

The Royal Oak Industrial Park on Vanalman Avenue, currently zoned for light industry, has one vacant lot, where Ellice Recycle intends to build a pay-per-use, open-air diversion facility. The use requires rezoning, because when the industrial park opened in the 1970s such operations were not on anyone’s radar – it wasn’t listed as an approved use of the site.

Coun. Judy Brownoff, who voted to reject tabling the application, said approving the facility would “erode” the decision-making process that led to the industrial park being zoned for light industry only.

“This is not about this business. This is about a commitment a past council has made about what this light industrial park should be – and it’s about quality of life,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anyone in Saanich that doesn’t support a proposal like this … I just don’t see it (working well) on this site.”

Ellice Recycle came to council last July with a proposal, but concerns were raised then about traffic, noise and operating hours. In the new rezoning application, some of those issues were mitigated, but not enough to gain support from many neighbours or councillors.

Gary Bartlett, general manager of Ellice, which operates a similar facility on David Street in Victoria, spent much of his time at the mike clarifying misconceptions. Council took that, as well as the strong attendance of many opponents, as an indication that Ellice did a poor job explaining its plans to neighbours.

“They owe it to everyone (to host) another open house,” said Mayor Frank Leonard, calling the applicant’s latest attempt – a Feb. 2 meeting drew less than 100 people – “inadequate.”

He and fellow councillors cautioned outright rejecting the proposal, because there remains potential for an even more intrusive, noisy and vehicle-heavy project to be built there under the existing zoning, without council and neighbours having their say.

“I don’t want to look back and say, ‘what could’ve been is far worse than what we have,'” said Coun. Vic Derman. “Sometimes it’s better to know what you are getting.”

Despite the overall sentiment of councillors that Commerce Circle may not be the right location for this sort of facility, Ellice has another opportunity to engage residents in a dialogue.

“I don’t think it’s going to get any further. The issues are still the same and they will always be the same,” Brownoff said, prior to voting.

Many residents spoke highly of the need for a recycling facility like the one proposed, where the safe disposal of items including wood, steel, paint, pesticides, carpeting and appliances is possible. But the Royal Oak neighbourhood just isn’t the place to do it, they said.

“I think we need to be a little more considerate. I’m concerned, at times, that we (Saanich residents) don’t want anything near us, but we want all the benefits,” Coun. Wayne Hunter said, referring to projects like the planned wastewater and sewage treatment plant in Esquimalt. “We do need a facility like this to follow through on the (environmental) commitments we’ve made.”

Coun. Dean Murdock, who voted to table the application, said the onus is now on Ellice to make any changes they want, based on the concerns they heard Monday, and to clarify further misconceptions about its operations.

“There are lessons to be learned from this,” he said. “One is how to do proper community consultations. Two is how to make a design for this type of service work in our community. I am hopeful there are ways to make this work.”

Leonard, Hunter, Murdock, Derman and Coun. Susan Brice voted to table the rezoning application, while councillors Brownoff, Vicki Sanders and Paul Gerrard voted to reject it. Coun. Leif Wergeland was absent from the meeting.