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Many changes still to come in Strathmore Recycle Yard transition

By Miriam Ostermann, Strathmore Standard

Colin Huxted took over the Strathmore recycle yard in January and after harsh weather conditions and safety concerns the yard is finally seeing some changes.

Colin Huxted took over the Strathmore recycle yard in January and after harsh weather conditions and safety concerns the yard is finally seeing some changes.

Shortly after residents took to social media to voice their concerns, many safety and cleanliness issues are currently being addressed at the Strathmore recycle yard.

Facebook pages, including Huxted Enterprises, Pat Fule Strathmore Town Councillor, and Strathmore Community Bulletin Board and Chat, had gathered an abounding amount of comments over the last few weeks questioning plastics and glass, cleanliness and safety.

“I have definitely noticed it’s gotten a lot muddier, dirtier - and not just looking disorganized I’m talking about garbage piled up in places – and last week there were tin cans sticking out of the mud,” said local resident Kristine Deisman.

“We go to the extra effort because we believe that that’s actually what needs to be done. That’s one of the things that I worry about, I know that probably half the town as it is was recycling, and now with it being a total pigsty even less people want to go.”

Citizens took to social media, when signs went up around the yard informing the public that starting May 1, certain materials, such as plastics with symbol 1-7 and glass would no longer be accepted. Huxted has since made announcements that these materials will be accepted again.

But the transition to take over the yard has been a challenge said Colin Huxted, who took over the recycle yard in January when everything was covered in snow and ice. While he said the original agreement gave Huxted five acres to the south, another two and half acres to the east belonging to the town ended up landlocked.

With a promise of filler for the wet and muddy low-land to the east, he agreed to use the land as part of his five acres. However, it’s a lengthy process and might take up to two years until the land can be used and user friendly for the public.

But for now, the company is more worried about safety and cleanliness. Huxted refused to do maintenance on the yard during weekdays after a near accident with machinery and local residents, and only has Monday’s to work on cleaning the yard – when the facilities are closed to the public.

“We didn’t cause the problems, we inherited them, and now we need time to fix them and we have to do it safely,” said Colin Huxted, owner of H&H Huxted. “We’re still getting snow and it’s May, by the end of May you won’t recognize this place but we need time to fix it. We only have one day to operate, it would be much easier to shut the place down but that would be defeating the purpose too.”

Traffic issues, a harsh winter, poor layout, and lack of an entrance and exit way are some of the issues that have posed a challenge to the recycle yard.

“The town moved everything into the locations where they are at now, and it hasn’t been user friendly,” Huxted said. “I was handcuffed, I could see the problems coming but going through all the proper channels and getting things done wasn’t happening, so finally I laid the ultimatum that it wasn’t safe to operate and we weren’t going to operate until we had the rest of the room.”

The town has granted Huxted access to an extra half-an acre to the south. With the recent change in weather Huxted has started to address a lot of the issues. On May 5 the area along the fence near the roadway was being covered with gravel and the cardboard, newspaper, and plastic bins are being relocated there, away from the current low area where there had been drainage, ice, and mud issues due to the melt and freeze cycle.

“We understand the number of changes that are occurring all at once on the site, and we’re hopeful that with the additional space it will help to make that site more user friendly and safe to use,” said Jesse Parker, director of engineering and operations for the town. “We’ve tried to be patient with H&H Huxted to give them the opportunity to make changes and understand how the recycling operation is going to work to the best of everyone’s interest, but obviously there’s been challenges and the residents and users of the yard have acknowledged that.”

The town is working together with Huxted on making the recycle yard safe and user friendly. But while some residents are angered by its current state, other residents are more than happy with Huxted and the curbside recycling program and feel the company isn’t being given a fair chance.

“Truthfully I’ve always been impressed with Huxted in the past, and the Huxted name is important because I know they stand by their product,” said local resident Carol MacDonnell who recently joined the curbside recycling program. “They definitely intend to fix it up, I absolutely believe that. Give them some time, there’s so much snow and mud they can’t just dry it up. My backyard is still full of mud, how are they going to clean up a recycling yard that fast?”

While residents had an issue with materials that weren’t being accepted due to a lack of market, Huxted is now actively looking into different markets for the materials that currently don’t have one, such as glass and certain cheap plastics. Huxted is also interested in purchasing a glass pulverizer in the future.

“We’re accepting everything status quo the same way as the town was, only we’re looking for better markets and better way of doing things,” Huxted said. “We’re going to be a complete recycling facility, but we can’t do it overnight. I finally have the freedom to be fully in charge, the town is no longer in control, so if there is something wrong I’ll take the blame for it but I’ll also fix the problem.”

According to Huxted, future plans to make the yard more user friendly and safe include moving the Take it or Leave it area to the low-land to allow for smoother traffic. The hazardous materials – including chemicals and gasoline - will be contained in a locked-up metal building away from the compost and wooden structures. The compost will also be moved and an addition of an entry and exit way will allow for less congestion. The recycle facility will also be cleaned up of garbage and gravel will cover the currently muddy ground.

The issue of composting at the recycle yard will be addressed at the May 7 town council meeting.

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