It is a now a well-known fact that glass recycling is not occurring at the High Prairie Recycling Centre as reported in last week’s Clegg’s Corner. How long this has been going on – well – no one is talking. It might have been years.

The next obvious question is if paper and plastics are being recycled. I posed that question to Mayor Brian Panasiuk and councillors Donna Deynaka, John Dunn, Sacha Martens, Judy Stenhouse, James Waikle, and Therese Yacysyhn in an email May 25. Only Panasiuk responded and while his answer was brutally honest it is also extremely baffling.

“I need to look into your questions on the recycling of paper and plastics. Bill or I will get back to you next week.”

Bill refers to Town of High Prairie CAO Bill McKennan.

This is disturbing on two levels.

First, council is currently charging residents on their town bills for recycling each month. It is marked “Basic Recycling Charges” on your bill. We already know we were paying for glass recycling as we were encouraged to do before the removal of the glass bins. We are paying for a service not being provided, however.

Now we are being told by our own council they do not know if paper and plastics recycling is occurring, yet the same council is more than happy to take our money each month.

That is very, very wrong. Should council not know for sure they are providing the service before they bill us? This is an extremely terrible, terrible way to do business and they should know better.

Council also met May 23 and the issue of recycling did not even make the agenda. Council knows that glass recycling is not occurring, they are charging residents for the service, and they did not care enough to fix the problem. Not one member of council even thought about the next obvious question about paper and plastics recycling.

By the way, the meeting was 30 minutes long before council went into closed session to discuss Outstanding Citizen nominations, so it was not exactly a heavy agenda.

Where is the care and respect for the citizens?

I also posed the question of paper and plastics recycling to Green for Life at their Edmonton office and head office in Vaughn, Ont. As they have done in the past, Green for Life is not talking. The fact they are not responding strongly suggests they are not recycling anything.

I have been told by many people during the past week they knew recycling was not occurring at the centre. Did these same people not know the were paying for recycling? Sheesh!

When the recycling bins were set up years ago, it was for two reasons.

First, the obvious issue of recycling saves the planet’s resources.

Second, the idea was if paper, glass and plastics were recycled, it would lengthen the life of the regional landfill. Makes sense. Less waste at the landfill, the longer the facility would last. The intentions were honourable.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Recycling in High Prairie has gone totally wrong. It is time council took steps to fix it, but so far the silence is deafening and the care and respect for the citizens even worse.

One man stopped me last week and said he would no longer use the recycling centre. To paraphrase what he said, he has lost all confidence in the service and it was a waste of his time to collect and sort materials to see them end up in the local landfill.

One cannot blame him and others who feel the same way.

If council tells us paper recycling is occurring, we don’t want lip service. We want and deserve cold, hard facts including tonnage recycled and when and where it is going. It is the only way confidence can be restored.

One other resident brought up another point. Council was more than happy to accept the refund from Green for Life which was two or three months depending on who you want to believe. The money collected is now council’s to spend.

“Why not give it back to us? We were the ones paying the bills?” asked the resident.

Another thought which never entered council’s minds.

by Chris Clegg

June 12, 2023

This item copyrighted by / South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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