Campbell River youth urge council to pursue compost facility

Campbell River youth encourage council to implement curbside organics pick up collection program

Campbell River youth are encouraging city council to move forward with tentative plans to implement a curbside organics collection program.

The city’s Youth Action Committee, which is made up of 10 Grade 9 to 12 high school students from both Timberline and Carihi, said the majority of local teenagers see the importance of composting food waste in order to reduce the pressure on our landfill which is nearing capacity.

Kianna Shwaluk, chair of the Youth Action Committee, said the group surveyed 366 of its peers to gauge their knowledge and attitudes towards food waste issues and the level of support for a municipal organic waste collection program.

“The survey indicates a good level of awareness among youth about food waste issues but also shows that there is room for further education and information in order to reduce food waste,” Shwaluk said during a presentation to city council at its June 6 meeting. “More importantly, perhaps, it shows high levels of concern by youth about reducing the amount of food waste sent to the landfill and strong support for a municipal facility and curbside collection program.”

Maru Napa, a member of the Youth Action Committee, said the group was pleasantly surprised to find that 44 per cent of youth surveyed said they compost at home but, he said, there is always room for improvement.

“It is to be noted that that is the minority of people,” Napa stressed. “The majority of people still do not compost in their homes. There is definitely the opportunity to increase the amount of people composting in their homes.”

Shwaluk said the survey revealed that the two largest barriers to composting at home are a lack of space (34 per cent) and the perception that it’s too difficult, or too much work (35 per cent).

Shwaluk said both of those obstacles could easily be knocked down by the city.

“To get more people composting we need to make it easier,” Shwaluk said. “This leads us to consider that curbside collection of food waste would encourage more people to compost, especially those who say there is not enough space and that it is too much work.”

And Napa said the support to keep food out of the landfill is there.

“We are pleased to know that 84 per cent feel it is important to them to compost in some degree,” Napa said, adding that most youth feel they need more education when it comes to composting. “Most youth are not aware of the curbside compost pick up as a municipal service so it shows that more public education will be needed if the city chooses to start a curbside waste collection program in the future.”

The city is moving forward with plans to open a regional compost facility at the Norm Wood Environmental Centre in northern Campbell River that would serve both the Comox Valley and Campbell River area. A curbside organics pick up program is part of those plans.

Mayor Andy Adams said the youth’s input will be invaluable to the city in moving forward.

“The information you have provided will go a long way to help assist in the implementation of a program here in Campbell River and Courtenay,” Adams said.

Coun. Michele Babchuk said it’s her belief that initiatives, like composting, start with youth.

“For lack of a better word, it’s us older generation that really don’t get it and we saw that actually when we started doing our Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That was really driven by kids and it was us parents that had to get on board, who weren’t exactly sure what to do,” Babchuk said. “So I really urge you to keep moving forward on that. We have had precedent in the past of these types of initiatives being led by youth and showing the older generation how it works.”

Coun. Marlene Wright agreed and praised the youth for “really taking the lead on the future,” and noting that the work youth do now will make it easier on everyone in the future. “Everything will already be in place. I’m really proud of what you’ve done so far.”

“Thank you for your perspective,” Coun. Colleen Evans added. “Thank you for your voice because it’s a really important voice to hear.”

Campbell River Mirror