The municipality is gearing up for some backlash to changes to its recycling system, chief among them gating the depots and closing the sites for 12 hours every day.
Beginning May 19, the Function Junction recycling depot and the Nesters depot will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be an attendant at each site monitoring operations.
And while that timeframe captures 90 per cent of the population who use the depots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., there are still more than 100 cars which come to the sites every evening.
"I'll be shocked if this is a smooth and quiet situation at the end of May," said James Hallisey, manager of transportation and solid waste, during his presentation to council on Tuesday night.
"I'm expecting quite a few phone calls."
Hallisey was before council, updating it on the upcoming changes to the system as B.C. ushers in new residential recycling regulations under the Multi-Material BC (MMBC) product stewardship group.
The new MMBC program requires all businesses that supply packaging and printed paper to B.C. residential consumers to be responsible for collecting and recycling packaging and paper once consumers are finished with it.
The program will make recycling throughout the province very similar for consumers wondering what they can and can't recycle.
Whistler opted into the program because not only will it bring more stringent recycling collections, it is also expected to save the municipality $125,000 a year.
Styrofoam and milk cartons will now be collected as a result of the new program.
"In Whistler's case it made good sense," said Hallisey.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden raised some concerns about people simply dumping their garbage at the locked depot gates and the impact that could have on bears. She asked Hallisey if cameras would be installed to deter that behaviour.
Cameras are being considered. In addition, the municipality intends to make layout changes to the traffic flow at the Function Junction site, put up new signage and make general upgrades to improve the depot areas.
There will not be a major capital investment at the Nesters site because the depot could be relocated to the nearby, recently purchased Fortis site, bought in anticipation of such a move.
Hallisey told the mayor that when the municipality closed the landfill prior to the 2010 Olympic Games, there was a period of time when people were dumping garbage at the gates.
"After six weeks people figured it out," he said.
The municipality will be releasing a Request For Proposals for a company to take on the attendant work.
There have been discussions with AWARE and Whistler Community Services Society, which may be interested in applying for the work as a way of raising funds.
The MMBC program is going into province-wide effect in May, though some jurisdictions have opted out.
Last week, a coalition of business stakeholder groups representing several major sectors in the B.C. economy announced a massive province-wide campaign to protest the regulatory changes to the recycling industry.
"For months British Columbia business owners have tried unsuccessfully to convince Minister of Environment Mary Polak to rethink the flawed plan her ministry put forth," said Mike Klassen, B.C. director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. "Now business groups representing significant parts of B.C.'s economy have come together to ask the Premier to step in to prevent this new red tape that will kill jobs and cause many businesses to fail."
It is estimated that the newspaper industry is threatened with a bill that could come to $14 million due to the changes.
In the meantime, Whistler is gearing up to let residents know about the changes before the May 19 deadline.
"It's a huge change in the way things have always been," said Hallisey.
"We're trying to soften the change with our communications plan."
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