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REAPS seeking $100K from City of Prince George after being forced to move

The environmental organization was “blindsided” in 2021 by a City of Prince George decision to give the organization’s Gorse Street location to the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.
REAPS' former compost demonstration garden, located at 1950 Gorse St., is seen on Thursday.

The Prince George Recycling and Environmental Action Planning Society (REAPS) is seeking $100,000 in support from the City of Prince George, after the city gave the organization’s former Gorse Street location to the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation for a planned daycare project in 2021.

REAPS had leased its former location at 1950 Gorse St. from the city since 1994, and through fundraising and volunteer labour had invested in significant infrastructure at the site - including at least $100,000 invested in the past 10 years, city council heard on Wednesday. However, according to a letter dated Aug. 24, 2022 from former REAPS president James Spankie to city manager Walter Babicz, the organization was forced to leave the location on short notice.

“We find ourselves in a plight which threatens our viability as an effective presence in our community – and which we did not create,” Spankie wrote. “We also must stress, reluctantly, that our situation has been made worse by the manner in which our file was been handled by the Planning and Development Department. Although you will probably be told otherwise, we were blindsided by decisions affecting our future which were made without our timely involvement. It was only long after the City agreed to relinquish the portion of the Park on which we’d operated for more than 25 years that Planning and Development staff actually made a site visit to see our facilities.”

REAPS was left out of talks between the city, Lheidli T’enneh and Regional District of Fraser-Fort George -which is the non-profit agency’s primary funder, Spankie added.

During a presentation to city council on Wednesday, current REAPS president Paul Sanborn said the situation created “the most serious challenge to our ability to function in the history of the organization.”

However, he said, REAPS is in full support of the city’s decision to return the land to the Lheidli T’enneh and the daycare will be a valuable asset to the community.

“It was the right and honourable thing to be done,” Sanborn said.

REAPS was able to secure temporary office space in February 2022.

The organization has secured a permanent new site, thanks to a partnership with UNBC and the David Douglas Botanical Garden Society, he said. REAPS has secured a sublease for roughly a third of an acre to rebuild the Growing Knowledge Community Compost Garden, as part of the planned expansion of the gardens at UNBC.

“This is a real project, and the earth is (already) being moved,” Sanborn said.

REAPS estimates the total cost of the project at $463,331, and has allocated its entire financial resources to the project, he added. Local educators, residents, businesses, community groups and even Fisheries and Oceans Canada wrote letters in support of REAPS' funding request to the city.

City council voted unanimously to request a report back from city staff on how the city can support REAPS’ relocation project.

“I really value the work REAPS does and has done,” Coun. Ron Polillo said. “It’s just a matter of how we can (support the group).”