Saturday, September 7, 2013

Trash talk to envelop B.C.

Get ready for a steady stream of trash talk in British Columbia.

While Metro Vancouver wants to build a $500 million "waste-to-energy" garbage incinerator by 2018, BC Liberal insiders like John Les and Dimitri Pantazopoulos have been hired as lobbyists by industry players to oppose it.

Metro Vancouver’s plan to force haulers to use its mixed waste facilities was defeated when the Zero Waste Committee voted 6-5 against a new bylaw on Sept. 5. The plan could be revised if the board strikes a task force. 

Now Multi-Material B.C., a society backed by manufacturers and retailers, is pushing municipalities to get on-board as it readies for a May 19, 2014 launch of a province-wide packaging and printed paper collection and recycling program. 
In 2011, the provincial government opted to give industry the responsibility for the $60 million to $100 million a year product packaging stewardship program. MMBC set a Sept. 16 deadline for local governments to opt-in to its private hauling program or accept a set fee from MMBC to carry on the status quo. 

According to an August report by the labour-backed Columbia Institute think-tank, 
"Port Moody calculated a 20% difference between the MMBC financial offer and the cost of delivering services. While not all municipalities have identified the same size gap, shortfalls between MMBC incentives and program costs will leave local governments to either pick up the balance of costs, reduce residential recycling programs, or turn recycling directly over to MMBC, a choice which offers no guarantees that services will be maintained
 at established levels."Some municipalities have concerns that the funding gap in MMBC offers could be compounded by what many see as unrealistic standards and punitive penalties for recycling ‘contamination.'"
CUPE B.C. secretary treasurer Paul Faoro told Metro Vancouver on Sept. 5, the “MMBC plan is designed from our perspective for industry, not for local government and not for public interest.”

City of Vancouver sanitation workers, represented by CUPE Local 1004, are buzzing. Some are even worried about the prospects of privatization. A staff report is expected Sept. 9 and an emergency public meeting is to be announced for Sept. 12 to decide the response of the Vision Vancouver dominated city council. 

It will ultimately cost consumers, but how much? Will B.C. be struggling with a new and complicated recycling tax? 

Stay tuned.

UPDATE (Sept. 11): After city hall closed for the day today, the agenda was finally published. Unless the plan changes, it will be a closed-door meeting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013 3:00 pm  
Council Chamber Third Floor, City Hall  
THAT Council will go into a meeting later this day, which is closed to the public, pursuant to Section 165.2(1) of the Vancouver Charter, to discuss matters related to paragraph:
(k) negotiations and related discussions respecting the proposed provision of an activity, work or facility that are at their preliminary stages and that, in the view of the Council, could reasonably be expected to harm the interests of the city if they were held in public.

However, an internal CUPE email from last Friday indicates that the issue to be discussed will be MMBC and recycling. 

From: "Justin Schmid" <>
To: "Dave Stephens" <>, "Michael McGahey" <>
Cc: "Meena Brisard" <>, "Steve Varty" <>
Sent: Friday, September 6, 2013 5:17:48 PM
Subject: Recycling Update

Hi Dave & Mike, 

Just wanted to give you a quick update on the MMBC & Recycling issue. 

Peter Judd and I will be coming to do a crew talk on Monday morning to give an update to everyone. 

Just to let you know, we have met with some key politicians on this issue and working to get things moving on this issue as much as we can. 

A report to council will be coming out on Monday and a special council meeting will be held on Thursday next week at which we will be presenting. 

In related news, there was an op-ed piece in the Sun today on the issue and in a couple other papers. I’ll bring some copies on Monday. 

See you on Monday, 


Justin Schmid 
CUPE National Representative 

CUPE was a very big funder of Vision Vancouver in 2011. The ruling party took-in $155,300 from CUPE BC, $42,000 from CUPE Local 1004, $36,700 from CUPE Local 15, $10,500 from CUPE Local 391, and $250 from CUPE Local 407. Add it all up and that's $244,750. 

No wonder CUPE can get a private audience with the politicians. 

UPDATE (Sept. 13):  Sneaky, sneaky. Vision Vancouver received this 13-page staff report dated Sept. 11 and held a closed-door meeting on Sept. 12

The report and the decision (but not minutes) were quietly released on the city website on Sept. 13. City council decided to continue to provide recycling services and is going to write a letter of complaint to the provincial government. Vision Vancouver is the same party that promised transparency and to engage citizens. And it has "Vision" in its name. But it did not make this decision in public or with public input.


September 12, 2013


Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Printed Paper

A.       THAT Council authorise the City Engineer to advise Multi Material BC (MMBC) that the City is interested in continuing to provide recycling services to the residents of the City of Vancouver consisting of:
i.       single-family (SF) curbside recycling;
ii.      multi-unit residential building (MURB) recycling; and
iii.     depot recycling at the Vancouver South Transfer Station (VSTS) and Vancouver Landfill (VL);
          under contract to MMBC subject to negotiation of a mutually agreeable contractual and financial arrangement.
B.       THAT the Mayor write the Minister of Environment requesting the Minister's urgent involvement in resolving the deficiencies in the Multi Material BC (MMBC) Collection Offer. Specific areas of concern include:
-        a lack of adequate input from municipalities and the need for an extension of the September 16, 2013 deadline MMBC has imposed;
-        deterioration in the level of service to the public during both the transitional phase and the ongoing implementation of the program;
-        a projected decrease in the level of recycling rates in the short-term and no firm requirement or timeline for increased recycling rates;
-        significant operational and financial risks to taxpayers as a result of both the market clearing price and proposed penalties in the current contract;
-        a lack of access to data about recycling rates.
C.       THAT the Council decision and relevant Administrative Report be released to the public as soon as possible.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Park Ranger keeps mind nimble amid OneCard kerfuffle

Below are photographs of a Vancouver Park Ranger passing time with a skill-testing newspaper crossword puzzle.

Vancouver Park Rangers are normally busy in summertime helping visitors enjoy the city's parks. Ambassadors of the flora and fauna.

Synonym for controversy...
That is not the photograph of a lazy Park Ranger. The proper word is bored. For this new assignment -- to be the eyes and ears of the Vision Vancouver dominated Board of Parks and Recreation at a half-dozen rebel community centres -- at least one Park Ranger became a modern equivalent of the Maytag Man.

This Park Ranger has been assigned to a community centre to intervene in a dispute and perform a job that he may actually not be licensed to perform. This is what the Park Rangers are qualified to do. Notice the lack of the word "security."

My source told me the photograph was shot the morning of Sept. 3 at Kensington Community Centre.

Kensington is one of the six community centres run by volunteer associations that are refusing to submit to Vancouver city hall's centralization of power and imposition of the OneCard universal access card. The other 16 community associations are toeing the line.

The rebel six pack of community centre associations filed this B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against City of Vancouver on Aug. 20. City of Vancouver replied with this news release on Aug. 22. The six associations were notified a week later by the Park Board that their joint operating agreements will be cancelled on Dec. 31, 2013. Park Rangers were then deployed to keep an eye on things.

On Sept. 4, I sent a list of questions to Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth and general manager Malcolm Bromley, to find out more about the deployment of Park Rangers. Neither Blyth nor Bromley responded with answers, but I am hoping that this will spur them into action. Because you deserve to know.

I want to find out how many Park Rangers are being deployed to these community centres and at what cost to Vancouverites. I am also curious about the qualifications of the Park Rangers: Is it true that the Board of Parks and Recreation does not require Park Rangers to hold a provincial security licence under the Security Services Act, even though the services they provide include security? This job ad says Park Ranger candidates require a driver's licence and first aid certificate. A Grade 12 education is desired. Pay begins at $23 an hour. Not too shabby. Under B.C. law, workers have the right to refuse unsafe work.

The Park Rangers are members of CUPE local 15, but president Leanne Toderian and city sector representative Dierdre Bradshaw did not respond either. 

This is an open invitation to Blyth, Bromley and CUPE local 15 to have their responses published here. 

Also, if you're a Vancouver Park Ranger, please contact me confidentially

UPDATE (Sept. 9): Blyth did not respond, but vice-chair Aaron Jasper did. He said Park Ranger deployment to the six dissident community centres was mandated by general manager Malcolm Bromley after incidents on Aug. 20 and 23 at a community centre that Jasper refused to name. Jasper also refused to tell me how much this is costing Vancouverites.

"In one of the instances the general manager had to intervene and the person was actually escorted off the property by a Vancouver Police officer. and subsequently to that incident a WorkSafeBC investigation was initiated because of a staff complaint of potential harassment and threats to their ability to perform their work," Jasper said. "We have an obligation to provide a safe and supportive working environment. The politics and the disagreement between the associations and the park board is not an excuse for members of the public or association executive members to harass our staff, we make no apologies, I support the general manager's decision to have a park ranger on site."

VPD spokesman Const. Brian Montague confirmed there was an incident on Aug. 23 at Hillcrest Community Centre. "There was no allegation of an assault and no evidence indicating that one had occurred. The matter was resolved without charges." 

Riley Park/Hillcrest Community Association president Jesse Johl said he witnessed Hillcrest recreation supervisor Peter Fox wave his finger in association treasurer Todd Constant's face. Johl said Constant has been "on top" of the community centre's finances "to the point where we account for everything and as a lot of questions and staff don't like it." 

Bromley attended and told Constant he would be banned from the community centre. Constant reminded the general manager that there was a joint operating agreement between the parties and that he had no authority to ban community centre association executives from the community centre. Johl said the police officer who attended, Const. Savage, did not escort anyone away. 

"There was only one witness to the entire event, that was me," Johl said. "Todd was not being abusive, Todd was not being aggressive."

But back to the question about the Park Rangers' qualifications. 

Jasper admitted they're not required to be security-certified, but they are deployed "to help assure, there is a safe, secure work environment for our staff." 

"You're sort of fixating on that aspect, in my mind the issue here is why did the park board general manager feel compelled to take this action," Jasper said. 

"Our park rangers do go through conflict resolution training, they're out there in the public dealing with potentially very volatile situations…. they know what their limits are, so if it's a situation they deem requires a backup they get on the phone, they contact the police.   

"I'm confident they have adequate training. If our park rangers are qualified enough to be out there in the summer months in all sorts of instances across our park system, surely they're OK to be sitting in the lobby of a community centre just monitoring, making sure everyone is conducting themselves respectfully."

The last word goes to the Security Services Act, which states, in Section 2

"An individual must not engage in any kind of security work, or hold himself or herself out to be so employed or employable, unless the individual holds a valid security worker licence for that kind of security work."  

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