Blackfalds joins fight for extended producer responsibility

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Blackfalds wants to see the Alberta government make producers take responsibility for the recycling of their products.

During their regular meeting last Tuesday, council voted unanimously in favour of forwarding a letter from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, asking for the government to modernize regulatory framework for recycling, which would include the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

“Alberta is really one of the only major provinces that doesn’t have this regulated at a provincial level,” said Director of Infrastructure and Property Services Preston Weran.

“It’s the same program, essentially, as our deposit for cans and bottles, but instead of the deposit being held by the consumer, the deposit’s going to be held by the producer.”

Statistics Canada data from 2014 shows that Alberta is the most wasteful province, sending under 1,000 kg of waste to landfill per person, compared to the national average of 700 kg per person, which AUMA attributes to outdated recycling regulations.

The hope is a modernization of the recycling framework and programs like EPR would change that.

The goal of EPR is to hold producers accountable by making them pay for the disposal of the products and packaging they create, meaning recycling costs currently paid by taxpayers through municipal solid waste rates would shift to product manufacturers.

With producers on the hook for disposal costs, there would be incentive to reduce excessive packaging, as well as choose more environmentally-friendly materials for the products and packaging.

It would also reduce municipal recycling costs, with some estimating it could save Alberta taxpayers  $63 million a year.

Individual municipalities don’t have the authority to implement any kind of EPR themselves, and thus municipalities, including Calgary, Edmonton, and more recently, Lacombe – which axed its recycling program because of rising costs – have also joined in to pressure the government to implement such a policy.

EPR already exists in most provinces, including Ontario and B.C. As such, producers have already wrapped costs associated with EPR into their product costs, leaving politicians across the province with the belief Albertans are paying more than their fair share for recycling through the purchase of a product alone.

“We’re being taxed twice, because that money (for EPR) is already being included in packaging that goes out with the items we are utilizing,” said Blackfalds Mayor Richard Poole.  “I’ve been very interested in this…I’m 100 per cent in favour of (EPR).”

Municipal assessment
Council unanimously approved a three-year contract with a two-year option for extension for municipal assessment services with Bow Valley Property Valuators.

Bow Valley Property Valuators’ Frank Watson has been Blackfalds assessor since 1995, and nearing retirement, he requested to finish his career as the town’s assessor.

“We’ve had a very long and I’d say good relationship with Mr. Watson,” said Director of Corporate Services Betty Quinlan. “He’s very knowledgeable about our community.”

The town previously requested assessment proposals in 2009 and 2014, however Bow Valley was the successful candidate in both cases, and council was told their rates were “extremely competitive.”

While rates were expected to jump to $76,000 for next year, Watson proposed to maintain his current annual rate of $66,000, with the only difference being the town also cover fees associated with the CAMAlot system software the province requires for assessment data submission. The software cost $6,877.50 in 2019.

Other notes from council
Cst. Jeff Hewitt, formerly of the Lacombe Police Service, is making his return to the RCMP as Blackfalds RCMP’s new School Resource Officer.

During a standing committee meeting on Tuesday, July 16, council heard from Doug Quinn, regarding a Junior A hockey franchise coming into the community. The idea a Junior A team would move in factored into the departure of the Blackfalds Wranglers, who are soon to be officially announced as the Sylvan Lake Wranglers for the 2019-20 season.

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