Re: The problem of yard waste on Gabriola

Tuesday, July 4 2017

Currently yard waste on Gabriola is either:

• burned when branches are up to 4” in piles less than 6x6x6 (except when no one is looking)

• hauled onto the ferry to paid disposal ($50/tonne) at the dump in Nanaimo (can require the use or hire of a trailer) 

• hiring a chipper (at $40/hr min) to break waste down (for burying or use or compost)

• or, if the above are considered burdensome, it is left to accumulate in place  

• in the case of small waste, it may be left in place to compost

It seems to me we need to consider the full costs of our current approach. Except in the case of small compost heaps, each of the above scenarios either present issues of air quality, climate change impacts (carbon emissions from burning), fire risk (excess tinder), or financial burden (cost of services/transport/ferry). Is it that complicated to arrange a service that makes a better choice accessible?

An increasing number of municipalities have progressive programs. A ten-minute web search on municipal websites revealed to me that yard waste (leaves, branches and invasives), can be dropped off for free in Whistler, Abbotsford, Vancouver, Esquimalt, Creston, Kelowna, Sidney. Also that Salmon Arm, Courtenay and Kelowna all have curbside collection of yard waste (including branches) and these are just the ones I found right away. These are much bigger communities but they also have lower risk of catastrophic fire and they do not have the additional burden of off-island transport that we have. 

What efforts have recently gone into assessing the possible Gabriola options for:

• pick up service;

• drop off on island (perhaps into shipping containers to be picked up by Nanaimo);

• on-island chipping or composting?

~ Tatha Cornish