City of Powell River will underwrite the cost of video production for information pieces on qathet Regional District’s new resource-recovery centre, but is hoping the regional district will get the picture and reimburse half the cost.
City of Powell River Council considered a motion at its meeting on Thursday, March 21, where a recommendation was made to allocate $5,000 from the city’s climate action reserve fund to the regional district’s Let’s Talk Trash Team for the purpose of producing five, one- to two-minute communication videos that document and highlight the stages of site remediation, site preparation and buildout of the resource-recovery centre. The recommendation did not sit well with most of council, which wanted the regional district to pay half because solid waste is a regional function.
Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the matter had been presented to the city’s sustainability committee and it recommended that this was a good project to support.
“Communication and public information is so important nowadays,” she said. “A lot of stuff goes on in social media and you get a lot of fake news going around. Something as simple as having a few short videos about the process of remediating this contaminated site and working toward the buildout of the resource-recovery centre will be a huge communication that will dispel a lot of false rumours.”
Leishman said it is important for the city and regional district to post the videos on both organizations’ websites and social media. When barriers go up and machines get onsite at the waste transfer site above Willingdon Beach, those questions can be answered, she added.
The waste transfer site includes the former municipal incinerator location, which will be remediated through a $6 million program administered by the regional district.
Once work begins on the site, “we know that the phones are going to start ringing and the social media is going to light up,” said Leishman. “Something like these videos will be absolutely essential to have it being explained.”
Leishman said qathet Regional District did not include video footage as an engagement tool in the original draft proposal in its application for the money to recondition the waste transfer site. She said she was absolutely in favour of the city underwriting the project for $5,000.
Councillor Jim Palm said he was a little disappointed the regional district was not offering support on the cost.
Councillor Rob Southcott added that solid waste is a regional responsibility.
“Yes, it’s only $5,000, but the thing is we have good things to do with our climate action and efficiency measures,” said Southcott. “Our climate action fund is a city fund.”
Leishman agreed that solid waste is a regional function, but said regional district staff members have probably spent almost 500 hours to develop the grant application to get $6 million so the contaminated site can be closed, and the resource recovery centre can be built.
“It has probably saved us $8 to $12 million of cost to do the closure of that site properly,” she added.
The reason the $5,000 is being requested is because it is a city site and it’s the city’s project in cooperation with the regional district, according to Leishman. She said the Let’s Talk Trash Team wants to capture footage from the beginning of the project to tell the story. It is applying for other grant funding for a longer documentary and requires footage of the entire project.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be an amazing facility built on a contaminated incinerator site,” said Leishman. “It will be one of a kind in Canada. They [Let’s Talk Trash Team] think it will be a great documentary to tell the story.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said he has a hard time with the request when the regional district has a multimillion-dollar budget.
“This is their thing,” he said. “For them to say, ‘we have no money for it,’ I know they have money for it. What I would be prepared to do is split it with the regional district. We would pay half and they would pay half. It rubs me the wrong way.”
Leishman, who is a city representative on the regional board, said the initiative never did come to the regional district board.
“Staff at the regional district knew there was no money,” she said. “Staff told the Let’s Talk Trash Team they are not going to get any money from the regional district because all of the deliverables for the grant application have been maxed out.”
Formosa said he wanted to amend the motion so the city funds half and asks the regional district to come up with the other half.
“Let them debate where to find $2,500 and that gives our sustainability committee another $2,500 to spend on the good work we’re trying to do,” he added.
Palm said the matter needs to go to the board table to ask the question about the regional district’s ability to come up with the money, but Leishman said it is too late.
Formosa recommended changing the motion to ask that the regional district reimburse $2,500 of the $5,000 total expenditure for video production.
The amendment passed, with Leishman opposed, and the motion carried.
The video below includes more information about the resource-recovery centre.