Environment committee discuss garbage issues at regional district

Garbage was discussed once again at the Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting, which took place prior to last Thursday’s regional district regular board meeting.

Garbage was discussed once again at the Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting, which took place prior to last Thursday’s regional district regular board meeting.

The contract for garbage pick up in the regional district was awarded to BFI Canada at the last regional district meeting. A presentation outlining four potential service option changes was also made at that meeting, and this week’s discussion was aimed at giving staff some direction so that budget estimates could be made.

Option one would see weekly pickup of garbage reduced from two to one bag per household. The move would not reduce collection costs, but would reduce landfill tipping fees by 10 per cent.

Area “C” Director Allan Patton noted that the potential change was “better than nothing for improvements” but wondered whether staff had looked at garbage pickup every two weeks.

Solid Waste Management Coordinator Cameron Baughen noted that staff hadn’t looked into that possibility, but raw capital costs were the biggest component of contract costs, and admitted that garbage odour would be a problem.

“We are not aware of anyone else picking up on a two week basis, at least not without kitchen waste pick up, Baughen answered.

Area “B” Director George Hanson asked staff if there had been any discussion with respect to increases in illegal dumping if a one bag limit were adopted, with Baughen noting that an answer to that question would not be quantifiable. Hansen then said that he understood consumer reaction to the change ( that being a feeling of paying more for less service) to which Baughen replied that it was “your guys” jobs to explain the benefits of the program to the public. He also observed that the market ultimately decides contractor costs, something that had already received much debate.

Keremeos Mayor Walter Depot noted that he had received input from several residents of Keremeos concerned over the loss of one bag per week and the resulting need to purchase

“tag a bag” stickers, noting that if people bought just two tags they would be paying more for the service than they are currently paying. Staff insisted that the majority of residents only place one bag per week for pick up anyway.

A discussion then ensued over the costs of the “tag a bag” program. The regional district charges $1.35 to retailers to sell the stickers, out of which the contractor receives 45 cents. The regional district purchases large quantities of the stickers at one time to help reduce costs.

The nine month window for collection of yard waste was also discussed, with staff admitting that the initial period would be experimental, and flexible should changes be necessary to the months included for bi weekly yard waste pickup.

The idea of providing service in some rural areas using four wheel dirve vehicles was the contractors, said Baughen, citing several cases (Anarchist Mountain, White Lake Road, and Grand Oro) as areas where service disruptions had occurred in the past because of poor road conditions.

“Servicing these areas with a four wheel drive vehicle costs less than one dollar per household, “ Baughen told the board.

Electoral Area “F” Director Michael Brydon asked staff how they would deal with a broadly interpreted definition of a container. Baughen suggested that the in most cases the contractor would try to provide service, but there was also a described volume and weight restriction that could be enforced if necessary.

Area “D” Director Bill Schwarz also took exception to the aspect of reduced garbage pickup but higher fees.

“The present service includes two bags with no additional fee versus having to purchase a “tag a bag” at $1.50,” he observed, further stating that residents would be paying more for placing less garbage while yard waste packaging would cost more ( a proposed service change would see yard waste collected in more expensive kraft paper bags), something Baughen said was not necessarily so.

“Residents can opt to purchase reusable containers, which will eventually result in less cost,” he replied.

“The answer is political – do you want to reduce one bag – consumers have a choice.”

“My residents don’t like one bag – they don’t want to pay double for less – they are asking about reduced services, to ten days or two weeks between pick up,” stated Area “G” Director Elef Christensen.

CAO Bill Newell reminded the board that they were making a decision based on two “primary drivers” – one being price, the other being environmental protection.

The vote over the proposed service change – for one container of garbage per week – was made after Directors McLean and Hope had left the room.

There was also some discussion over a proposal to change yard waste collection pick ups from six times per year to every other week for nine months. The rural Similkameen directors took exception to the proposal, with Area “B Director George Hansen requesting statistics on yard waste collection in his area, commenting that he perceived that the majority of his constituents did not use the service.

Staff agreed to provide data regarding useage to every director.

A short discussion on what to do with glass completed the meeting, with a few directors pondering the possiblilty of dropping glass collection altogether. Glass is currently not recycled. It is crushed and used as landfill cover, and staff noted that areas where weekly pick up took place did not involve pick up of large amounts of glass; nor did areas that only see semi annual pick up. It was eventually decided to look at setting up of glass depots throughout the regional district.

The Environmental and Infrastructure Committee accepted the following recommendations:

– One container of garbage collected per week.

– every other week yard waste collection, flexible dates.

– collection of yard waste in reusable containers or compostable kraft bags.

– set up of glass collection depots.

The recommendations will come before the next regular board meeting for adoption.