Liam’s Lowdown: Revelstoke’s ‘trashy’ future

The CSRD peg the cost of the new composting facility at roughly $500,000

There might soon be a place for those onion skins and banana peels other than your own garden.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) recently received a grant for a $100,000 composting facility near Revelstoke.

We’ve been on the composting road for a long time. Since 2012, the CSRD has been looking to build a facility.

Two years ago, the Columbia Basin Trust gave the district $30,000 towards the project.

According to the trust, within the City of Revelstoke the commercial sector generates 1,400 tonnes of food waste annually.

In 2018, the district did a study for the Revelstoke landfill and concluded the largest component of waste was organic at 51 per cent.

The district has waited for a building permit from the City of Revelstoke for years to add the composting facility on the back-end of the existing landfill.

Revelstoke is becoming an island among other cities that compost. Salmon Arm started composting last year and the CSRD said it’s diverted garbage from the landfill by 45 per cent.

Before moving to Revelstoke, I lived in Edson, Alberta.

Edson is a hub of industry. The main employers are sawmills, coal mining, oil and gas. Just mentioning pipelines may suggest you’re against them.

However, even Edson has curbside compost pickup.

Now, Revelstoke may be odd in some regards. But when it comes to the environment, it can be a leader.

For example, the food recovery program, which re-uses food from grocery stores and restaurants destined for the dumpster and is a model for other municipalities in reducing food waste. Since its inception in 2016, the program has collected 285,000 pounds of food.

It’s then distributed through 25 different agencies in the city, including the food bank, the women’s shelter and the school district’s breakfast programs.

Yet, Revelstoke is still behind, especially when it comes to bear-proof bins. It’s not uncommon to watch a bear from your living room window knock over trash bins on collection day.

In 2016, at least 18 black bears were killed in the Revelstoke area, partly due to them being attracted by garbage.

Bear-proof bins have been in Canada’s national parks since the 1970s. Jasper National Park said the bins have significantly reduced the number of bears having to be put down there. I grew up in Jasper. Occasionally you heard about a bear being put down, but rarely.

Revelstoke has taken some measures towards complete bear safety, such as adopting the Garbage Collection and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw and adding bear-proof bins downtown in 2017. Installing bear-proof bins across the city would not be cheap. Back in 2011, the city budgeted $500,000 to purchase them city-wide in 2014. But it never followed through.

In 2015, the city was told it could cost each household more than $250 per year for an automated collection system using bear-proof bins, which would have doubled the cost of what residents paid at the time.

Bear safety comes at a staggering cost, particularly when the city tries to grapple with other pricey ventures, like updating the sewage facilities and a new roof for the arena.

READ MORE: Revelstoke needs bear-proof garbage cans, Bear Aware says

But for a city that has statues of bears downtown, on pillars at the city’s entrance and with two national parks on its doorstep, bear-proof bins are a cost we are all eventually going to have to face.



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