Premier Christy Clark answers reporters' questions after addressing the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention on Friday.

Premier Clark critical of MMBC recycling rollout

Small business group (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) calls on province to 'reset' program

Premier Christy Clark is criticizing the rollout of a new recycling agency that has caused alarm among municipalities and businesses across the province.

Multi Material BC is slated to take charge of blue box pick-up next May when it becomes responsible for collecting and recycling all packaging and printed paper – at the provincial government’s direction.

“I recognize this wasn’t done well,” Clark said of the planned producer-pay system. “It’s been far too bumpy a ride. There is a lot more work to be done.”

The premier spoke to reporters Friday, a day after local politicians at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention passed a resolution demanding more time to negotiate acceptable contracts with MMBC to avert higher costs and the potential erosion of existing recycling services.

Clark agreed more time and flexibility is needed “so that local communities have a little bit of leverage in trying to put together the best deal that works for them.”

She said MMBC, a stewardship group formed of retailers and other packaging producers, must ensure its board includes British Columbians, not just industry representatives in Toronto.

Mike Klassen, B.C. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, urged the premier to go further and “push the reset button” on the entire stewardship program for packaging and printed paper in light of widespread concern.

“Not only is it local government and public sector unions not happy with it, small business has very, very big concerns,” he said.

Any business that puts packaging or printed paper in the hands of B.C. residents and ultimately the waste stream must register with MMBC as stewards.

Some small businesses were unaware of the program until they were warned by MMBC they could face fines of up to $200,000 if they fail to register.

Small businesses are worried about unknown costs and the onerous workload they may face under MMBC’s model, Klassen said.

“Imagine what it would be like for a small restaurant with their name on the pizza box – they have to track all the weight and the amount of paper that they distribute with those pizzas they deliver and remit fees on a regular basis.”

Small businesses have been asked to sign contracts without knowing what the final fee schedule will be, he added.

“No small business in their right mind would sign that contract,” Klassen said. “This is the biggest issue we’ve seen come in from calls from our members in several years.”

MMBC has said it will take more time to determine the costs of the program and how to apportion then – and it will exempt businesses with revenues of less than $750,000 – but many businesses fear the request that they trust the new agency amounts to signing a blank cheque.

Klassen said part of the problem is that MMBC’s board consists of big business representatives who aren’t taking smaller firms’ needs into account.

He said it amounts to a Toronto-based “monopoly” and the province should pause implementation while it figures out how to ensure other stakeholders are better represented.

Just Posted

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Highest earning staff at Fraser-Cascade School District made public

Also board looks into seat belts on school buses, Marv Cope gets road in his memory

Agassiz teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

AESS students say they had the experience of a life time

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

Next search for Shawnee Inyallie Nov. 18 along Highway 1 towards Boston Bar

Gas price drop expected to hit Fraser Valley today

Analyst says to take advantage, warns slight increase may follow

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants couldn’t find the net: coach

Even with a six-on-three advantage, the Langley-based hockey team couldn’t earn points Sunday.

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

UPDATE: Hells Angels on scene after body found in Maple Ridge

Body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge

Mountie left with ‘significant’ injuries after driver attempts to flee traffic stop

Richmond RCMP are looking for a dark coloured Mercedes Benz

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Most Read