City upset about recycling facility

News that a $15-million recycling facility is coming to Queensborough caught New West officials by surprise Wednesday.

Green by Nature EPR announced it will manage the sorting facility on behalf of Multi-Material BC (MMBC).

MMBC is a non-profit industry organization taking over packaging and paper recycling on May 19.

The new facility will be in the former RockTenn and Smurfit-MBI corrugated box plant at the foot of Gifford Street.

The 179,000 sq. ft. facility will employ up to 70 people during construction and after it opens sorting recyclable plastics.

The building’s conversion is to be completed by early 2015.

A press release said Green by Nature will handle about 185,000 tonnes of packaging and printed paper material.

It’s estimated about 20 per cent of all recyclables collected by MMBC will be sorted at the facility.

MMBC managing director Allen Langdon said New Westminster will benefit from job creation.

But both the city and the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce have some reservations.

Coun. Bill Harper fears it will only add more trucks to the city’s already congested streets.Bill Harper

And he says nearby businesses like Starlight Casino, Lowe’s Home Improvement Centre and Value Village also might not like the extra traffic.

“To have huge amounts of trucks parading through there every day for me is problematic. Nobody informed us, nobody came to us and asked is this OK. This completely caught us off guard,” said Harper, who chairs the city’s economic development committee.

“I’m not happy.”

Coun. Bill Harper

Green by Nature vice-president of corporate administration Vivian Leung said the size of the facility and its central location made it well suited for the organization’s needs. As for concerns about truck traffic, she noted MMBC and Green by Nature also want to avoid congestion.

They plan to schedule fewer trips, with bigger trucks during off-peak hours.

“It’s in our best interests to avoid the traffic as well,” said Leung. “We don’t want to be sitting in traffic.”

City spokesman Blair Fryer said the current zoning allows the building to be used for what MMBC and Green by Nature are proposing.

Council approval is not required.

Harper isn’t impressed by how MMBC has gone about its business.

“They’re (MMBC) a power unto themselves created by provincial legislation and there’s been absolutely no consultation on how this is going to take place,” said Harper.

“My message to them is if you’re going to be a business in our city that’s compatible with other businesses in the city then you better come to us.”

Truck traffic isn’t the chamber’s only concern.

CEO Cori Lynn Germiquet said they’re concerned about MMBC’s financial effect on its members, including community newspapers.

“We want to make sure it’s a level playing field,” said Germiquet.

She also suggested MMBC investigate using the Fraser River to transport the recyclables.

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