City councillors still have some questions about the rollout of automated garbage collection, but are moving forward with a plan to pay for the service.
At a special council meeting Dec. 11 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, a municipal solid waste collection bylaw amendment passed three readings. The purpose of the amendment was to reflect the transition to automated collection and to raise user fees for the service.
A week earlier, the bylaw amendment had been withdrawn, but some language had since been corrected and clarified by city staff.
The city’s senior manager of public works, John Elliott, said although the amendment was re-worded to allow for up to 75 pounds (34 kilograms) of material per bin, “we don’t want to encourage more material going in.”
Coun. Jerry Hong had questions and concerns about the bin sizes and was given different information than had been presented to council previously.
“For us to buy bigger garbage bins, that does not make sense to me in a world where we’re trying to reduce waste,” he said.
A Nov. 23 staff report shows that 76,000 bins were ordered for automated collection – three sizes of blue recycling bins (120 litres, 240L, 360L), two sizes of black garbage bins (120L and 240L) and two sizes of green organic waste bins (120L and 240L).
Chief administrative officer Tracy Samra said the bylaw can be further amended in the new year and said more information about automated collection will be coming in an implementation report expected in early January.
“For our purpose today, you’re not adjudicating on the decision to move to automation or the automation program you approved…” she told councillors. “We’re looking at the bylaw.”
Staff was asked about possible credits for residents who might wish for more infrequent bin collection, and Elliott said that’s “definitely being discussed.”
Victor Mema, the city’s chief financial officer, said the idea of credits will always present a challenge for his office.
“Because you have a system to maintain, and so if we go [to] on-demand services, we may have to change our user fees so that we can account for that,” he said.
User fees are increasing to $165, from $133, for residential solid waste collection and increasing to $198, from $179, for commercial premises.
The bylaw amendment passed three readings with councillors Hong, Jim Kipp and Gord Fuller opposed.