Nanaimo residents are leaving more waste at their curbs, and that’s one of the reasons why they’ll be billed more for garbage collection next year and the year after.
City councillors, at a special finance and audit committee meeting Monday, Nov. 22, voted unanimously to recommend increasing the sanitation user fee to $216 in 2022 and $228 in 2023. The fee was $189 in 2021.
City staff said some of the reasons for the increase are because two trucks are being replaced and one truck will need to be leased in the interim. As well, the city is shortening the life cycle of its trucks from 10 years to eight years. Another factor is Recycle B.C.’s relocation of its designated reception facility from Nanaimo to Chemainus.
“This is quite a large jump [in user fees] and it’s likely going to come as a shock to the users, but … we want to ensure that we don’t get hit with large shocks in the future from failure of the fleet,” said Bill Sims, general manager of engineering and public works.
A staff report noted that the two diesel refuse trucks being replaced were purchased second-hand and “are now several years past their useful life.” They will be replaced with CNG trucks that align with the city’s green fleet strategy.
Sims said the city is collecting 55 per cent more waste by weight than it was three years ago for a few reasons including yard waste collection, the size of the waste carts and the “explosion of online shopping” during the pandemic.
“It’s really challenging to continue to collect waste at the curbside and keep the rates stable,” Sims said.
Mayor Leonard Krog said he was talking to a friend this past weekend who ordered a scarf online and the mayor exaggerated that it came in a cardboard box large enough to ship a set of encyclopedias.
“We are all making these decisions daily and they do have consequences and they have consequences on the bottom line of what the city has to charge to try and dispose of all of this,” Krog said.
Coun. Don Bonner wondered if the city’s large, easily-rolled waste carts were a mistake in retrospect, and asked about efforts to educate citizens. Sims agreed that people should be aware of the correlation between their waste volumes and costs, but did add that the City of Nanaimo’s user rates are comparable to similar-sized jurisdictions.
Coun. Zeni Maartman suggested that even with the increase to user fees, Nanaimo residents are getting good “bang for [their] buck.”
The recommended user fee will still need to be approved by city council.