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Port Alice Recycling Society gets the boot

“It’s a lot of work for one person - it’s overwhelming.”

A declassified motion released at a Port Alice council meeting sparked criticism from the local recycling society.

The Village of Port Alice created an employee position for a recycling attendant at a special closed council meeting on July 25 and they declassified the information at their Aug. 9 meeting.

Members of the Port Alice Recycling Society attended the Aug. 9 meeting to voice their concern over council’s decision.

“Did any of the councilors ask the volunteers in the community who have been doing this job for over 25 years how much work is involved?” asked recycling society member Cathy Anderson. “I seriously doubt that one person will be able to get those items ready in time for the truck to come.”

The Port Alice Recycling Society was formed in 1993 and received funds from the Village to operate the depot which allowed them to employ a supervisor and student worker.

“We found out that there had never been an agreement between the Village of Port Alice and the recycling society – we can’t continue to just give money to the society,” said Mayor Jan Allen.

Allen explained that “we thought with the number of the hours they are open now, and the fact that we have less than 700 residents here, we could do it for considerably less – we thought we could do it with a union position that would cost us just shy of $17,000.”

Allen said council received a quote from the recycling society that was more than the $24,000 dollars they had been given in 2016.

“We were surprised it went from $24,000 to $26,000 and we still cut back the hours,” said Chief Administrative Officer Paul Carver of the quote they received from the Recycling Society. “When you break it down to the dollars and cents I just could not make it work,” he added.

Former Port Alice Mayor Gail Neely also spoke on behalf of the society. “There were reasons for putting it up,” she said noting the proposal the society made was intended for two workers, not one.

She also noted that because the contract was for a two year period, the society wanted to account for a possible change in minimum wage that could be “detrimental to the contract.”

“Isn’t council supposed to be running the village and not ruining it?” asked Neely, who then cited her dissatisfaction with the loss of the student position. “There is nothing in Port Alice for students. It’s distressing when we have been working so hard to help these kids get their foot in the door so they can have a reference for their work,” she said.

Allen said council “took everything into consideration when we made this decision – we didn’t take it lightly because we do appreciate everything the recycling society has done over the years.”

After nearly half-an-hour of back-and-forth discussion, Allen thanked the members of the society for their comments and asked to move the meeting along.

“I’m going to wish the village good luck, but like I said it’s a lot of work for one person – it’s overwhelming,” said Anderson.

Council will now have to enter into discussion with their union to finalize a job title, description, and wage before the position will be filled and the Port Alice Recycling Society is relieved of its duties.