Homeless in Vancouver: Regional Recycling opens earlier but UWC is late

The Regional Recycling Vancouver bottle depot is now open at 7 a.m. every day. The Encorp Return-It depot still hasn’t changed the hours on its website but word of the change is spreading among their customers. It was confirmed to me by an email from Regional Vancouver’s manager Arlene Watson.

Regional’s decision to begin opening one hour earlier comes ahead of another bottle depot’s move into the area. United We Can is scheduled to move from the Downtown Eastside to Industrial Avenue any day now.

United We Can bottle depot hasn’t moved yet

The United We Can bottle depot at 39 East Hastings Street is apparently still at 39 East Hastings Street, even though yesterday (January 15) was widely reported as the date it was to move to its new location on 455 Industrial Avenue.

There’s no question UWC is moving. Its current location on East Hastings has already been approved as the site of new social housing. And at only 900 square feet, the Hastings location is far too small for its needs today, let alone its future ambitions. The new location on Industrial Avenue quadruples the company's floor space.

The question of when is not answered on UWC’s website. The only address listed is on East Hastings. Under the News and Media link is a link to a very outdated Metro May 2013 news item that UWC will be moving pending city council approval. That story contains a link to an October 2013 update that quotes United We Can general manager Gerry Martin as saying the move would take place January 15, 2014. There will be no gap in service, Martin said.

The most common rumour passing among binners and bottle depot owners is that the UWC move has been pushed back until sometime in March, though a few binners say early February. The ones not saying anything are the folks running United We Can; so far, they have not replied to my emails and neither have they been picking up their phone when I’ve tried calling them.

Three little depots all in a row. Where they are the binners will go…

Whenever United We Can makes its move, it will mean three Encorp Return-It bottle depots bunched within a kilometre of one another. More significantly, it will mean no bottle depots west of Ontario Street—the street dividing east and west addresses (it’s at Ontario that Broadway Avenue changes from West to East Broadway).

Vancouverites commonly see Main Street, only two blocks east, as the dividing line between Vancouver’s richer west side and poorer East Vancouver. It’s not their imagination. They can see it in their property assessments, their rents, and their leases.

East Van residents might want to put out the welcome mat; soon they will also be seeing all the binners who used to take their bottles to the Downtown Eastside to cash in at United We Can.

Left to right: Go Green, United We Can, and Regional Recycling.
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