Finding conservation in demolition

This afternoon, council’s public work committee passed a bylaw intended to limit the waste from house demolitions and increase the recycling. It was written by staff in consultation with Richmond’s Small Builders Group, which means that the developers made the decisions. It appears fine until one does some simple math. Then it becomes evident that it does not provide the needed incentive for builders who demolish houses to recycle 90% of the material, as they could easily do. Financially, it still makes sense for the builders to keep on using methods that recycle only 50% of the materials and dump the other 50%.

I spoke on the issue on behalf of the Garden City Conservation Society, since our directors and I felt there was a significant opportunity for conservation. I explained how the bylaw could be modified to get results. Here are my speaking notes, as updated after the meeting.

Councillors Harold Steves and Carol Day also spoke about ways to get better results, but staff did not want to work on it any further. It was decided to just pass it and look at it again in a year. Coun. Steves predicted that not much would happen to improve demolition recycling in the coming year. Supposedly, staff will be spending the next year looking into ways to accomplish what they could accomplish now by having functional incentives.

In Richmond, B.C., this is progress toward conservation. Since Metro Vancouver was there, maybe it will inspire some other Metro local governments to do a little more. I’m pretty sure that it’s at least better than nothing. We progress slowly.

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