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Cost to recycle may jump

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Northwest Ontario Recycling Association levies could jump as the board of directors commits to balance its budget in 1998.

That’s the warning the 26-member municipalities, two First Nations and two local services boards have been given as the NORA board gears to make a decision at its Aug. 12 meeting in Fort Frances.

Board chairman Mel Fisher explained the $5 per capita NORA is charging now isn’t enough to keep it in the black.

“The situation is fairly tough financially. At the end of 1997, we’re predicting that we’re going to be about seven or eight dollars per capita in debt,” he noted Monday, with NORA servicing a 55,000 population base.

“[But] I don’t want to quote numbers because that’s up to the board,” he added.

And although he said it’s not being discussed right now, Fort Frances rep Bruce Spottiswood stressed if NORA was to fold, any municipality with more than 5,000 people would have to provide recycling services (that includes Atikokan, Dryden and Fort Frances).

“That’s a distinct possibility,” he added.

NORA is hoping legislation will be introduced to make industry responsible for a chunk of the recycling bill, as Fisher noted is successfully done in Manitoba.

But already the threat of higher fees has prompted Red Lake to pull out starting Jan. 1, and Fisher admitted other northern municipalities were talking about jumping ship.

“Financially, it’s not going to damage us," he noted. "But I think they’re making a mistake.”

While no district municipalities have moved to follow Red Lake’s suit, Rainy River Mayor Gord Armstrong said the recycling issue would be discussed at the council meeting there next month.

“It’s going to cost a lot of money, and it’s going to get more expensive in the future,” he explained.

Emo council also was slated to take another look at the information it received from NORA during its regular meeting last night.

“There’s a lot of contention,” agreed Alberton Reeve Yves DeGagné, saying the service was starting to cost more. But he added it hasn’t come up on their agenda yet.

Fort Frances council Monday night tabled discussion on the privatization of NORA—which was referred to the Operations and Facilities executive committee last November—until after it found out what was happening with the organization.

Meanwhile, Fisher noted annual operating costs for NORA run around $700,000, with it able to recover about one-third of that through recycling sales.

One problem NORA has run into is that recycled goods are no longer a hot commodity. In 1995, it got $279 per ton of paper but now receives only $75 per ton. Pop bottles—which netted 27 cents (U.S.) per pound in ’95—now bring in just four cents per pound.

Aluminum cans have stayed at 60 cents a pound.

Fisher estimated a municipality might recycle five to 10 percent of its total waste.

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