Woman walking out on to a dock

New System for collecting garbage from Cortes Island government docks

Billie Fleming runs a local waste allocation facility – processing garbage and recycling. She has been collecting garbage at the docks around Cortes for over four years. 

Cortes Currents learned that there are some changes coming to the dock garbage collection service.

A garbage bin at the government dock in Squirrel Cove – Roy L Hales photo

Fleming gave us some background information.

Riel Dufresne was collecting the garbage for years for a very small fee.  Fleming started working with Dufresne and they realized that the pay was too low and approached the Harbour Authority of Cortes Island (HACI), who collects fees and pays for collection.  HACI agreed and raised the pay for collection services. 

The Cortes community doesn’t realize how much Dufresne did.  When he was at his healthiest, there were not beverage cans on the side of the road.  Dufresne did a lot of other underpaid and invisible work, keeping Cortes clean and greener. 

Fleming describes how much work it is to do the dock garbage collection. 

“In the summertime, five days a week. And in the wintertime, one day a month”, she says. 

After comparing the amount of time involved with Cortes Island’s residential garbage collection, which only happens on Saturdays, Fleming said dock collection is nearly as much work, but only one-tenth the pay.

(Editor’s note: The SRD budget for residential garbage collection in 2022 is based on $97 ea. for 603 users. This is a $5 per user increase over 2021)

Real Dufresne wasn’t simply emptying bins, he cleaned up the whole area around the docks – Empty bag of chips photo by Ben Bailey via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Fleming wants to be clear that HACI did not know the extent to which the pay was low and when they found out they agreed that it was not sustainable. HACI realized that the fees required to cover a fair wage for collection would not be possible to collect – the fees are paid on an honour system and do not currently cover the expenses of even the low wage. 

Local residents, as well as members of the transient boating community have dumped couches, chemicals, fuels, needles and even human feces in the bins.

Fleming pointed out that the abuse of the system (and the workers) by transient boating community is particularly egregious because they should be paying the cost of getting their garbage to the appropriate places – historically this has been subsidized by the Cortes community. 

She said it just couldn’t go on, and came up with a new option modeled after a garbage service run in Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island. There, people pay by weight. Fleming said her program will have different rates for those who sort their waste and for those who don’t.  The highest rates will be paid by those who contribute a mix of garbage, recycling and compost. The lowest rates will be offered to those who separate all those things. 

This tiered cost program will hopefully offer a way for local liveaboards to have an affordable waste option – if they sort their garbage. 

The old green garbage bin, beside the porta-potty, on the Squirrel Cove dock has been sealed up since March 1, 2022 – Photo by Roy L Hales

The garbage collection will be focused on the long summer months beginning May 15.  If people need garbage collection outside of that time, they are encouraged to contact Billie directly to make arrangements.  

Fleming doesn’t want people to be throwing their garbage in the ocean and also believes that people need to take responsibility.

The new waste collection service will happen from 10am to 6pm everyday beginning May 15, at the Gorge Harbour government dock. 

For more information, contact Fleming at boneyardreusery@gmail.com 

This program was originally posted on March 10 and reposted as part of the Saturday Roundup on March 12.

Top image credit: The new waste collection service will happen from 10am to 6pm everyday beginning May 15, at the Gorge Harbour government dock – Photo by Roy L Hales

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