Panama Flats may act as staging point for green bins

Saanich is looking to use a building on the agricultural land to help public works crews prepare for an overhaul of garbage collection

When Saanich announced a deal to acquire Panama Flats in February 2011, it was done under the pretext of floodplain management and increasing protected greenspace in the municipality.

And while that plan remains, Saanich, in the meantime, is looking to use an existing building on the agricultural land to help the public works crews prepare for an overhaul of our garbage collection system next spring.

On Tuesday, a public hearing will be held for council to consider approving a temporary use permit to allow crews to assemble and store 64,000 kitchen scrap recycling carts in an old agricultural warehouse on Panama Flats land.

Sharon Hvozdanski, director of planning, Saanich anticipates it will take two months for upwards of six employees to attach the wheels and lid to the green bins.

“The short-term use of the existing building … could result in substantial cost savings for the municipality by providing the contracted services vendor with a central distribution property,” Hvozdanski wrote in a staff report. “Temporary use of this particular building would not impact lands within the floodplain or the long-term agricultural capability of the Agricultural Land Reserve lands.”

In January, Saanich council approved the new collection method, to be rolled out next spring. In addition to being able to recycle kitchen scraps, the changes will require residents to drop off and pickup their garbage, recycling and organics bins at the curb.

If the temporary use permit is approved, crews will have a six-month window from November 2013 to May 2014 to use the building at Panama Flats for the green bins.

As for the future permanent uses of Panama Flats, Saanich still intends to create a long-term management plan for the site, with input from the public coming from open houses and public consultation.

kslavin@saanichnews.com