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Carney's changes handsafter 52 years in the corridor

Owen Carney sells company shares to longtime friend and owner of Smithrite Disposal

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After more than 50 years in the Sea to Sky, Carney's Waste Systems has a new owner.

Owen Carney, who founded the Squamish-based company in 1965, has sold his shares to longtime family friend and owner of Smithrite Disposal, Gordon Smith.

"It just felt like the right time," said Carney. "I'm going to be 75 in June, so it's just better to have a younger person at the helm than I am."

As the new majority owner, Smith said operations and staffing would remain largely unchanged at Carney's.

"Carney's has a very good reputation in the corridor and has been a local player there for a long, long time. Owen and I have always had a real strong business relationship and I think a lot of our culture, our desires in business and the way we conduct ourselves in business are very, very similar," he said.

"We just want to kickstart Carney's and continue to have it thrive and prosper."

Even with his experience in the business, Smith acknowledged there are some unique challenges in Whistler when it comes to waste.

"The big challenge is the influx of people on weekends. You go from a town of (12,000) to many times that," he said. "The commercial side of the business we've got covered, but the residential side is a challenge, and the drop-off centres are a challenge because you go crazy there on the weekends.

"We've not been in the market previously in our other businesses, so we're just getting a good feel for what Carney's does, what services they offer, and some of the larger accounts such as the (District) of Squamish and the Resort Municipality of Whistler."

The relationship between the Smiths and Carneys goes back to Owen's earliest days in the industry, when he bought his first roll-off dumpster from Smith's dad. After launching in Squamish 52 years ago — when Carney still manned the dumptruck himself — he moved into Whistler in 1970 and Pemberton a decade after that. He was also instrumental in devising the waste management plan for the corridor in the '80s. Today, the company serves the communities stretching from Britannia Beach to Devine, composting roughly 50 tonnes of waste a day and recycling 20 to 30 more.

"I have been involved with Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and the (Squamish-Lillooet Regional District) forever doing the waste and composting," noted Carney. "We brought in the composting system ourselves, solid waste, liquid waste, recycling."

Outside of his core business, Carney has also been a big supporter of the Sea to Sky over the years, donating considerable time and effort to a number of local organizations, including the Rotary Club of Squamish, Capilano University, and Squamish General Hospital. More recently, Carney and his wife Anne helped raise close to $3 million for the construction of the Centrepoint affordable housing project in Downtown Squamish, slated to open in June. He's also contributed to several local sports organizations and, outside of waste management, is perhaps best known for 30-plus years as head of the Whistler Weasel Workers, a group of volunteer ski-race workers dedicated to advancing alpine ski racing in the resort and throughout Canada.

Now, closing in on the three-quarter-century mark, Carney is looking forward to taking some time off and spending more time at his vacation homes on Hornby Island and the Baja California Peninsula.

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