KUTE employees Adrien Goffinet

KUTE given a $30,000 boost from council

Kitimat Council has approved a bump up to KUTE's funding to deal with ongoing economic challenges.

Kitimat Understanding the Environment (KUTE) is still struggling against a tough recycling economy and competition for employees from other industries.

KUTE President Barb Hall and Director Ken Maitland presented their financial needs to councillors at the June 24 Committee of the Whole meeting, where they wanted another increase in their funding for the year in order to recruit a strong depot manager.

Hall said that the depot is having trouble retaining long term managers due to so much activity in Kitimat as of late.

“Not having a mature, long-term and experienced manager creates the situation we find ourselves in,” she said.

Mismanagement has lead to a huge backlog of recyclables at their depot, which is taking away precious space and creating workplace safety issues, she said.

“The back log of unsorted paper has been the result of many poor decisions when materials arrive in large quantities. This is limiting flow of materials and forcing the workers to handle these materials many times,” she said.

She wants to be able to hire a manager at a rate of $18 an hour.

Having a long-term, qualified manager will mean they can begin making progress on their intense back log. She said in a letter written to Council that in June they hired a new manager for the fourth time in seven months.

KUTE has been participating in a program called Odyssey, which gives people who need work experience the chance to do jobs to put on their resumes, but the work, while making progress, won’t get them to where they need to be by the time the program ends.

At the committee of the whole meeting, it was moved that KUTE be given an extension to their $2,500 a month boost, first given in March. Now they’ll receive that extra, emergency funding to the end of the year, plus will receive an additional $850 per month to hire a new manager, and council also agreed to provide a $10,000 one-time booster for tasks relating to clearing their material backlog, including forklift training and other expenses.

In total the extra funding to KUTE from the District of Kitimat adds up to $30,100.

Councillors were unanimous in passing the motion. (Councillor Rob Goffinet was excused from the voting due to a conflict of interest.)

The mover, Mario Feldhoff, felt it was a worthwhile investment.

“This money, in my mind, won’t cripple us,” he said, noting that they’ll look again at the funding the society needs once the 2014 budget process begins.

In late March of this year, Hall explained the situation in the recyclables market. At the time they were facing a cardboard price of $50 a tonne, which has now dropped at least another $10 in value. Meanwhile office paper tumbled from $125 to $60 a tonne in March.

“We need it to be in the $90 a tonne [range],” Hall said in March about cardboard.

She didn’t say how high office paper would need to go to make money on processing it but said as well it would have to go much higher.

With this new infusion of money, KUTE should be set for the remainder of the year.

As for how the public may help, people are encouraged to separate their recyclables ahead of time into cardboard, office paper and newsprint. Anyone is welcome to volunteer at the depot or join KUTE’s board of directors.