City looking to hire more ‘binners’ during the Games

VANCOUVER – The city of Vancouver plans to spend $50,000 to hire extra binners to clean up the downtown core during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Twenty-two paid binners will earn $10 an hour retrieving recyclable beverage containers from 250 temporary recycling bins throughout the city.

Downtown Eastside-based non-profit organization United We Can will hire the binners to work four-hour shifts each of the 17 Olympic Games days. The binners will be scheduled in three shifts to provide 12 hours of service a day. Deposit refunds will go back to UWC to pay other workers.

The proposed grant awaits city council approval Tuesday, where Councillor Geoff Meggs believes it will be an easy sell.

“UWC is truly one of those outstanding Downtown Eastside institutions because it takes what could really be a difficult problem and turns it into a number of positives by producing income and jobs for people while they do all of this recycling,” Meggs said Sunday. “By making this grant, I think it will spread some of the benefits around but also help the city keep the downtown area cleaner. Plus, it’s a modest amount and from planned expenditures.”

Funds will come from two pre-approved Olympic Legacy Reverse Fund projects: $40,000 from the Look of the City program and $10,000 from the Social Sustainability Initiative.

UWC was created in 1995 by and for the traditionally hard-to-hire, including those with addiction issues, mental illnesses and physical disabilities. In addition to operating a recycling depot, UWC employs about 150 people for various other positions, from cleaning up city streets to repairing bicycles.

Executive director Brian Dodd says the initiative will keep city streets clean, create more jobs for residents of the Downtown Eastside and provide them with an opportunity to contribute to the Games.

“Just because folks live in the Downtown Eastside doesn’t mean they don’t want to be part of something this big coming to our community,” said Dodd. “We’re finding that in the binner community, there is an excitement that the Olympics are here. This is a way for them to be involved in what’s going on.”

Binners at UWC Sunday supported the Olympic initiative.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Darryl Manson, adding that he would gladly take an Olympic-time position if one was available. “There are a lot of unemployed people in this area.”

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