WOSS — Squinting his eyes against the bright sunshine on a pleasant afternoon Monday, Woss transfer station manager Len Paranych pointed down a narrow gravel road.
“Right there is where people used to come into the bush and dump all their stuff. Eventually, it got so bad it closed off the road.”
The spot Paranych pointed to now contains fresh young grass sprouting from a low dirt mound. Behind him, meanwhile, stood the community’s new, improved — and legal — waste transfer site.
An elevated slope, reinforced by interlocking concrete blocks, fronts a trio of large containers for the disposal of recyclable materials, household garbage and various metals. Behind the bins is a large, open area that will eventually sport a 30×50-foot metal building to hold the station’s recycling totes and other material.
The entire project was funded with part of the $300,000 in federal gas tax revenue injected into North Island communities through the Regional District of Mount Waddington.
“This was one of three ‘red’ spots on Vancouver Island for illegal dumping,” said Patrick Donaghy, RDMW operations manager. “It was being abused because of its access to the highway. The key thing was to clean up the site and get the infrastructure in place.”
Donaghy and Paranych, the regional district’s contractor for the site, were joined Monday by North Vancouver Island MP John Duncan, his constituency representative, Leonard Landry, and RDMW Area D director Dave Rushton of Woss.
“We’d already cleaned it up twice before,” Rushton said of the site. “But we’re a small community. We couldn’t afford to keep doing that.”
That’s where the gas tax came in, paying for the site cleanup and infrastructure improvements, including a locking gate that should discourage illegal dumping at the site.
“People aren’t coming from all over and dumping here any more,” said Paranych. “Because they know it’s regulated.”
The Gas Tax Fund is one component of the government’s Building Canada infrastructure plan, and is used to fund environmentally sustainable, municipal infrastructure programs. Through RDMW, the program also funded the waste transfer station on Malcolm Island, which replaced the illegal dump there, and another in Winter Harbour, which was faced with the prospect of its privately held landfill closing.
“This project is an example of our commitment to help municipalities plan for their long-term infrastructure needs,” said Duncan, the Conservative MP who also serves in cabinet as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. “I think this is the only federal tax that’s put directly into municipalities.”
The gas tax fund was doubled in 2009 to $2 billion, and Duncan said the government accelerated gas tax payments to British Columbia in both 2009 and 2010 so that municipalities could count on the money earlier in the construction season. “We’re delivering on our commitment to build strong, sustainable communities that offer prosperity, economic opportunity and a high quality of life for all residents across British Columbia.”
Donaghy said the gas tax revenue is allowed to be accrued by the regional district. Once the three North Island transfer stations had been identified as priorities and the sites approved, the RDMW board of directors approved the expenditure of the gas tax revenues.
“On Malcolm Island, we’re finding the amount of recyclables we’re getting is way more than we expected,” said Donaghy. “And the amount of solid waste is lower. We’re trying to emulate that model here.”
Paranych confirmed the same thing has happened in Woss, where the 40-yard container bin for garbage has had to be hauled to Seven Mile Landfill for dumping just once since the transfer station went into operation in May.
“It’s doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Rushton. “That’s good.”