Charlotte Davis, city manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration, and Rod Leclerc, sanitation foreman, demonstrate one of Nanaimo’s new Labrie Expert Helping Hand, CNG-fuelled garbage trucks. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Automated collection would raise garbage rates

Nanaimo city council considers second user rate increase this year for garbage collection

Nanaimo residents could see a second garbage rate increase this year.

City council is one vote away from increasing residential garbage rates 15 per cent to pay for its new ‘Sort Toss Roll’ program, an automated solid waste collection service that begins in central Nanaimo this fall.

Council agreed to automate garbage collection during a closed meeting in March. The new program, which will see mechanical arms pluck bins from the curbside, will cost around $7.5 million for new bins and garbage trucks and public education.

Solid waste collection service is 100 per cent funded by user fees and council is considering increasing rates by 15 per cent effective July 1 – a $118 bill for residents. Rates went up Jan. 1 by two per cent, which was based on manual collection and pending council’s review and decision on automated garbage collection, a city report shows. It also says it’s necessary to increase user fees to provide for costs of this year’s implementation such as increased public education required by Recycle B.C., formerly Multi-Material B.C., and a higher cost for a recycling contract.

The city won’t terminate its recycling contract and go in-house until its system is fully automated next year.

The first three readings of the municipal solid waste collection amendment bylaw were approved at a council meeting Monday with only Coun. Jim Kipp opposed.

Kipp said to the News Bulletin he’s finding the rates for garbage are rising faster than the cost of inflation and almost any other business he knows, and the city is moving to automated, buying containers and doing the work that sometimes the private sector does a lot better. He also pointed to other costs, like water, solid and liquid waste rates and the city’s tax requisition to the regional district, which was $18.2 million for wastewater treatment and transit this year and is projected to be $24 million by 2021.

“That’s a lot of percentages going up in costs and that’s just a requisition, the RDN just sends us a bill and we tax the citizens of Nanaimo for that amount and I am concerned with the growth of these costs,” he said.

Coun. Jerry Hong was in favour of the user rate because he said he wanted to get it started and have the first two trucks on the road, but he had wanted to see the program phased in and was also against in-house recycling.

Charlotte Davis, city manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration called the user rate bylaw the first rung on the ladder for implementation and said it will pay for things like cart delivery and the city’s communication program for the first phase. The rate will apply to all households, not just the central Nanaimo homes getting the service at the end of October. Other areas of the city will get automated collection in 2018.

Davis said everybody will benefit from phase one because the city will be learning, which will help for the rollout of phase two, which is much larger. She also said administratively it didn’t make sense to have two different user rates for different parts of the city, considering the project will get rolled out over a span of about six months.

A new user rate will be put together for 2018 to cover costs of the second phase. Previously, city staff estimated user rates would go up to about $170. Davis said when the municipality knows the cost of the carts and trucks, now out for requests for proposals, “we will have a much closer idea of knowing where we’re going to come in around that $170.”

Under the Sort Toss Roll program residents will get three bins for recycling, organics and garbage, and will be able to dispose of yard waste. People can test out carts at city facilities, like Oliver Woods Community Centre and the City of Nanaimo Service and Resource Centre beginning July 31.

To read more about the city’s program see goo.gl/psh0c.