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'Take it or leave it' facility could cost almost $1 million: report

City council to debate next month whether such a facility will be included in a future Badger Lands public operations yard space
Coun. Sheena Hughes has put forward a motion that, if approved, will see a "take it or leave it" facility be included in a future public works yard site in north St. Albert. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

Establishing a "take it or leave it" facility like Sherwood Park's Hodge Podge Lodge could cost almost $1 million, a new report to St. Albert council says.

The Hodge Podge Lodge first opened in the Broadview Enviroservice Station in 2018, and is now a 1,500 square foot space that is semi-enclosed, municipally staffed, and run with the help of about 40 volunteers. Residents donate items to the Lodge that either can't be recycled, or can but might still have life in them, and other residents can take items that catch their eye at no cost.

The goal of the facility, and of similar facilities in Edmonton, is to up-cycle items as much as possible to reduce the amount of material being sent to landfills.

Inspired after going on a tour of the Lodge last summer, Coun. Sheena Hughes put forward a motion asking city administration to draft a report that breaks down some cost estimates and things to consider if St. Albert was to establish its own facility. The motion was approved, with only Coun. Natalie Joly opposed.

“[St. Albert] is very eco-conscious and is motivated to try to improve our environment and not throw away things that don't need to be thrown away,” Hughes told the Gazette about why she'd like the city to follow Sherwood Park's lead. 

“People who live here are awesome that way, and this is something that I know they'd appreciate.”

City administration's report, written by senior manager of public operations Louise Stewart and manager of transportation operations and waste management John Potter, was presented to the standing committee of the whole on April 9.

According to the report, creating a take it or leave it facility in St. Albert could come with a one-time cost of almost $1 million to establish the space, complete with signage and parking. Running and maintaining the facility, including the cost of one full-time staff member to work there, would be between $135,000 and $155,000 per year, according to the report.

When Hughes put the motion forward last summer, she said she'd like to see such a facility be established in the city's Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot in Campbell Business Park, but administration says it wouldn't be feasible, given the Depot's limited space.

Instead, administration recommended a take it or leave it facility be included in the upcoming site planning for a new Public Works yard on the city's Badger Lands, which are just north of Villeneuve Road and west of Hogan Road.

“The overall footprint could be planned such that all potential uses could be integrated into the most efficient alternative,” Stewart and Potter's report reads.

“The planning for the Public Works satellite yard will be coming to council for funding consideration as part of the 2025 budget approval process.”

In an interview, Hughes said she was disappointed to see the city doesn't have the available infrastructure to establish a local take it or leave it facility right away, but that she has put forward a motion with administration's Badger Lands recommendation as the identified site for the facility.

“At least there is a plan to have a public works facility in the next couple of years that would be able to support this,” Hughes said. “I know it's going to be very well-received by the community once it is in place.”

“All the other ones that have been established are very well-appreciated by their community, but we're just going to have a few more years to hopefully see it come to pass.”

During the April 9 committee of the whole meeting, Stewart and Potter told council having the facility in or near the Mike Mitchell Recycling Depot would be ideal as any items that go to the facility that aren't appropriate can easily be disposed of at the depot. Having the facility incorporated into another city facility of some sort like a public works yard would be the next-best option to minimize operational costs.

Other locations, like the parking lots of Servus Place, Jarome Iginla Arena, or Olexiuk Field, weren't considered feasible options.

“The land that we had identified as possibilities we couldn't necessarily have 12 months a year ... so we couldn't identify land that was serviced because you're going to have to provide a facility for the people, allow them to park somewhere, have washrooms either on site or very close by and then provide heating and secure storage for 12 months a year,” Stewart told the committee.

“We think [the facility would] be exceptionally popular.”

Council will debate whether the future public works yard space on the Badger Lands will include a take it or leave it facility on May 7.

“I'm hopeful council will approve it ... because I know that once this facility is in place, it will have tremendous value to this community and it will work towards waste diversion in a very positive manner,” Hughes said.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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