Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald and copied to The Valley Echo for publication.
Dear Mr. Macdonald:
I want to bring to your attention what effect the MultiMedia BC (MMBC) recycling program in its current design could very likely have on our local newspapers and the communities we serve.
I am the publisher of two newspapers in the Columbia Valley, located in the East Kootenays in the southeastern corner of B.C.
The Invermere Valley Echo and the Columbia Valley Pioneer — recycling program aside — have been facing challenges to stay profitable, and operational cutbacks are a regular occurrence to keep our business viable. We have been operating the two weeklies jointly with two separate owners — Black Press and Aberdeen Publishing — for the past 18 months to cut costs and improve the operational efficiency of both publications.
The MMBC mandate that will force us to also absorb recycling fees come May is threatening our existence. The cost cannot be passed on to advertisers or readers.
Newspapers are big proponents of recycling — we print The Valley Echo newspaper on recycled newsprint. The objections that newspapers have about the recycling program managed by MMBC are not about a lack of support for recycling, nor are we shying away from responsibility or our due contribution.
The Valley Echo has been in the community for close to 60 years and the Columbia Valley Pioneer for ten years, and the fact is that both will be faced with the threat of layoffs and possible shutdown with these additional expenses. This will have widespread and longterm implications.
I have 11 permanent fulltime staff, and carriers in a wide range of demographics, from 20 year olds up to 70 year olds.
Job opportunities are limited in our area. Many would be forced to move, and most of them would likely move to Calgary, Alberta. Each and every one of the staff contributes to the community — with kids in the school system, shopping locally, eating out, volunteering and recreating in the valley. This will have an impact in the communities of Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs and Panorama Mountain Village.
If this recycling program goes ahead as currently designed on May 19th, the outcome may very well be that our Columbia Valley residents and business community would be without a traditional forum in the community for dialogue and debate. Our community newspapers are a very popular part of the social fabric of our small towns and fill an integral role informing and educating on relevant issues. It will be a sad day should the outcome force us into this position.
Please delay the start of MMBC and consult with the business community. Surely together we can come up with a better program than one that threatens the existence of business and community newspapers.
Publisher, Invermere Valley Echo/Columbia Valley Pioneer