MEGA-NEWS: United We Can moves to False Creek

A Downtown Eastside landmark has left the neighbourhood. Ken Lyotier knows there are and will continue to be critics of United We Can’s move from its original location at Hastings and Carrall to a new False Creek location at 459 Industrial Avenue.

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But the founder of the social enterprise recycling depot says the move to a larger space was inevitable. And since it’s only two kilometres away from its former space, it’s the best location available for the thousands of binners who bring their recyclables to the depot.

“I think the additional space is wonderful, and it allows for a future development for United We Can,” says Lyotier, who started the organization in 1995 after binning on and off for most of his adult life. The new site is a co-location with the Recycling Alternative, a for-profit recycling company, which Lyotier believes could help the non-profit United We Can expand its recycling capabilities.

Lyotier, who is still binning in his retirement, says the two kilometres marks an extra distance for a profession that requires a lot of walking or biking already. But he says it’s a worthwhile trade for a 10-year lease for the new space.

“The security is so important for the future, and something that provides a foundation to build on,” he says. That kind of security wasn’t available at 39 East Hastings Street, where the Atira-owned building will soon be 169 units of social and market housing.

Lyotier credits UWC’s board of directors for working hard with the city to secure the space at a below market-rate lease. But the success of UWC, he says, is due to the community of people working there every day. The organization employs 120 people with barriers to employment, is used daily by 700 binners, and processes 60,000 cans per day.

“Thousands of binners have been scratching the resources out of the dumpster to make that doable,” Lyotier says. “I just feel really proud to be part of that kind of community of people.”

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