BY ANDREW SMITH
LISTOWEL – The Municipality of North Perth is seeking a legal opinion over their relationship with Bluewater Recycling Association (BRA) and their decision to withhold funding. Mayor Julie Behrns said the discussion was in response to an October letter from BRA indicating the board has decided to withhold any Waste Diverson Ontario (WDO) funding from member municipalities until further notice.
“I guess basically because their year hasn’t turned out quite like they expected because of their pressures,” Behrns said.
North Perth manager of environment services Mark Hackett said BRA’s reasons for holding the funding back included an increase in fuel costs, and a higher than expected participation rate in their new automated collection program.
“They did not plan on the eight municipalities that went with it all at one time,” he said. “Their capital costs were quite a bit higher.”
The WDO funding is based on how well a municipality recycles and the amount of waste that is diverted from landfill sites.
Hackett said North Perth’s WDO funding for 2012 was estimated at $89,000, with that number expected to increase due to the ease of using the new automated collection bins.
“We’re seeing that recycling has apparently gone up 30 per cent in volume with the new system,” Hackett said. “People are recycling more because it’s so easy to do.”
Behrns also said that council strives to be open and transparent with their operations, and expects the same from the other service providers they work with.
According to Behrns, the move by BRA to deny municipalities the WDO funding deserves some clarification.
“They apply for it on our behalf, but I’m confused as to where it says they can keep it,” Behrns said. “We’re not sure about that either, they just decided that they would.”
Both Behrns and Hackett agree that matters like this could easily be solved with a service agreement, something that has been lacking between BRA and the municipality, but that BRA president Francis Veilleux is open to.
“I think some of these things could have been taken care of in that service agreement,” Behrns said.
“I think Bluewater is certainly willing to work with us on anything, they haven’t been hard to get along with at all,” Hackett added.
Another matter needing to be cleared up for the municipality is handling of their shares held in BRA, a non-profit organization.
Behrns said the current bylaw for BRA states that if the company is ever sold or dissolved, the remaining assets would be distributed to a charitable organization operating solely in Canada.
Under the current bylaw, Behrns is unsure if the municipality would see a return on their shares.
“We’re looking for clarification because municipalities, as you know, are not technically recognized charitable organizations,” she said. “We just want to clarify that before we go a whole lot further.”