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Galiano Island celebrates new solar powered recycling centre

CANADA, April 17 - From Galiano Island Recycling Resources Society:

Galiano Island Recycling Resources Society (GIRR) is pleased to celebrate the completion of our new solar powered recycling centre. We are holding an open house event at our depot located at 220 Sturdies Bay Road Galiano Island, from 11am to 2pm on Friday, May 3rd to honor all those who contributed to the project, to provide tours of the new facility, and to learn about GIRR’s numerous programs and operations. It’s a small way for us to say a big thank you!

“We’re proud to celebrate the completion of upgrades for the Galiano Island Recycling Depot, a project that is truly a testament to the power of collaboration,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities. “Supported by the provincial and federal governments, local community members, and the Galiano Island Recycling Resources Society, the upgrades will increase operational efficiency and capacity while helping the community meet sustainability goals. We will continue to work with our partners to create a cleaner, greener tomorrow.”

GIRR operates a bustling depot on Galiano Island where we manage our community’s waste stream by means of recycling, reduction, and reuse. GIRR is a well-established institution on Galiano, serving the island’s 1400 year-round residents and thousands more part-timers and visitors for over 30 years. With no landfill on the Island, GIRR is the primary waste processing and removal option and offers an impressive, expanded service (beyond typical municipal blue box programs) that rivals any in BC. GIRR also manages a ReDirectory to facilitate the reuse of household items. GIRR diverts up to 100,000 tonnes of material from the landfill and redirects 1000's of items to new homes every year.

In a world of increased packaging volumes, online shopping convenience, and an expanding range of recyclable materials, GIRR’s operations have steadily grown over the years, stretching the limits of its 1200-square foot building to meet indoor processing and storage needs. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 tipped the scales.

Project Manager Keith Erickson explained that “temporary tents were established, and public access was drastically limited to meet protocols for safe handling of materials and to allow for physical distancing. This resulted in long line-ups and concerns over staff suffering from heat-stroke in the sweltering summer months, materials getting wet and moldy during wet fall days, and temporary tents buckling from winter winds and snow loads. With no sign of the pandemic letting up, GIRR’s Board of Directors put their heads together to find a long-term solution. They commissioned the design of a new, well-ventilated, permanent building and commenced fundraising.”  

In 2021 GIRR received the welcome news that a new building was approved for funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program - British Columbia - Covid 19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream.

GIRR Depot Coordinator Renee Macdonald explained that, “the new collections centre was designed to provide a safe environment for the staff and for our community, while also improving the efficiency and capacity of the recycling operations. The best part was that the project included a solar system to meet the energy needs of the entire depot, aligning with GIRR’s sustainability goals in the face of the increasing climate crisis.”

“Galiano Island is a community that's thinking ahead and working towards reducing both the harm to the environment and the costs that come from dealing with waste,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “That’s why we’ve partnered with all orders of government to invest in The Galiano Island Recycling Depot Infrastructure Upgrade. I am excited to see that Galiano Island will increase the quality of life in the community into the future with less waste, more recycling and reuse, and better community sustainability.”

The project was completed in December of 2023, establishing a 1,136-square foot insulated workspace that boasts retractable garage doors on all sides and paved skirting that connects with GIRR’s other structures and storage areas. Staff can now efficiently and safely process materials while maintaining social distancing. Capacity for safe public access has increased by 300% since the onset of COVID restrictions. A 10.56 kW solar energy system was installed on the roof and directly tied into the BC Hydro grid. This produces enough electricity to meet the annual needs of the entire Depot. GIRR estimates that the new system will reduce its CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions by 6 tonnes per year, at the same time saving over $1,000 annually on its utility bill.

The new GIRR facility also provides the needed capacity to adapt to long-term, post pandemic increases in demand for its services. With more people than ever able to work remotely, the general desire to get out of crowded cities, and the rise in popularity of ‘local getaways’, the stage is set for continued growth of Galiano’s year-round and seasonal populations.

Macdonald explained that “Planning and executing the expansion of our facility during the trials and tribulations of a pandemic was not without its obstacles. Having the support of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program - British Columbia - Covid 19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream is what made this goal a reality for our team.”

GIRR would like to thank the Government of Canada for contributing $306,681 and the Government of British Columbia for their contributions of $76,671 in support of recycling within our community on Galiano.

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