The CCRD and the Nuxalk Nation have come together to sign a new cost sharing agreement addressing one of the biggest problems facing the community: the management of solid waste.
Within the Bella Coola Valley, solid waste management is primarily funded through a tax levy on local property owners, a contribution by the Nuxalk Nation, and base funding from the CCRD through a provincial grant. Changing demographics and a budget shortfall due to environmental regulations, made it an opportune time for both parties to work together to arrive at a new agreement. The result was dramatic increase in the Nuxalk Nation’s annual contribution, from $30,000 to $100,000. This brings the Nuxalk contribution in line with the recent increases to the tax levy, and paves the way for improved management of landfill and recycling operations.
But this didn’t happen without a lot of work. Capital Projects Manager Archie Pootlass and Chief Councilor Wally Webber were instrumental in getting the necessary representatives from Aboriginal Affairs to survey and the inspect the landfill themselves, leading to the obvious conclusion that more needed to be done.
The CCRD is extremely pleased with the new agreement, citing an improved relationship between the two governments. “We really feel we are partners in this agreement,” said CAO Darla Blake. “We both are concerned about protecting our environment and this agreement signifies an important step in that direction.”
One thing that both governments want to emphasize is the new focus on recycling. “It was very important to the Nuxalk Nation that the recycling take top priority,” said Public Works Manager Ken McIlwain. “They are very keen on waste diversion.”
The new recycling facility at Thorsen Creek has been popular, and the CCRD is confident that usage will only increase. “Our goal is to be cost neutral, and we are not there yet,” said McIlwain. “But our next step is to focus on public education and hopefully get even more residents recycling.”