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Regional District to review costs for taking on curbside garbage pick-up

The RDOS wants to review whether in-house would be cheaper than a $1M more costly contract
RDOS directors are feeling sticker shock after they were provided with a contract that is $1 million more costly than what they currently pay for curbside garbage and recycling collection. (City of Penticton)

Directors at the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen want to find whether it would be more cost effective to handle curbside garbage pick-up themselves after they were deliver a pricey contract renewal.

The directors were presented on May 9 with a proposed contract from Waste Collections Canada that would cost $2,301,179 each year for a seven-year term.

That would cover a biweekly collection of refuse and recycling, weekly collection of food and yard waste and a yearly large item pick-up from the curbside throughout the RDOS.

The $2.3 million pricetag came with hefty sticker shock from some of the directors, given it’s $1 million above the current contract, which expires in June of 2025.

“I’m looking at something here where, especially when you’re looking at socioeconomically, I’ve got a poor area and then all of a sudden I’m gonna be going up 110 per cent if we follow the contract,” said Rural Keremeos Director Tim Roberts. “I can’t see any in my mind in regards to what is being increased in regards to service and meeting the obligations of the contract.

“This is, as I said in my email, I just can’t fathom it. It’s just so much.”

Even if the RDOS were to keep the status quo for a weekly garbage pickup schedule, the estimated cost difference is around $100,000 based on the cost estimates in the RDOS staff report.

Roberts noted that the RDOS has saved $150,000 a year by taking on operation of the Oliver landfill as an example of where bringing something in-house is less expensive than contracting out the service.

“It’s not that we want to take on all these things, but sometimes the costs are prohibitive in other ways, and we get more flexibility,” he said.

Kaleden Director Subrina Monteith echoed Roberts’ words, and noted that many other communities were looking at bringing their waste collection in-house.

“We owe it to our constituents in the rural areas to see if we do have other options,” said Monteith. “We have flexibility, we have options.”

READ MORE: New garbage collection contract coming for South Okanagan Similkameen

In the end, after a closed in-camera meeting, the RDOS directors voted to have a consultant do further review of an in-house service and how much it would cost the RDOS to run while continuing negotiations with WCC.

Staff said the consultant would have the report done quickly and that it should be presented at the next board meeting on May 23.

One of the RDOS’s new procurement officer’s first tasks will be determining the costs and availability of a new garbage truck prior to the May 23 meeting as part of the cost estimates.

The proposed contract was the result of a regional request for proposals for service for the entire South Okanagan, led by the City of Penticton and done in partnership with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and nearby municipalities such as Keremeos and Osoyoos.

The City of Penticton approved their new contract with WCC, which will see their costs go from approximately $1,370,000 when the current contract expires next year to an estimated annual cost $1,580,000.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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