Nanaimo city councillors weren’t able to get enough answers about a garbage collection bylaw amendment to be able to move forward on the file.
At its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, council withdrew a motion to amend a municipal solid waste collection bylaw. The purpose of the bylaw is to reflect changes to garbage collection that come along with the transition to automation, and to reflect the new user fee.
Victor Mema, the city’s chief financial officer, said there was a “small window” to review the bylaw, but warned that the amendment needs to be passed soon.
“If I don’t have a bylaw come Jan. 1, I’m not one who tries to scare councillors, but the reality of the matter is I will have a shortfall, because I’m committed on certain costs,” Mema said.
Coun. Jim Kipp had questions about the bylaw’s wording around weight and maintenance of the carts.
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During council’s discussion of the bylaw on Monday, Tracy Samra, the city’s chief administrative officer, said “due to emerging circumstances, staff will be coming back with a report on implementation … an implementation plan for the automation.”
She said staff has indicated that there are lessons to learn from each phase of the rollout of the system and she said there are some unknowns, giving the examples of yard waste collection in the green bins and possible capital investment at the public works yard.
“Based on that information and the uncertainty of this, I can’t vote for these bylaws because I just don’t know if they’re accurate,” said Coun. Jerry Hong. “I understand that [user fees] are going to be $165 this year, which I can’t see it changing, but the following years, what we’ve promised the public, I don’t think we’re going to be able to deliver it properly. Until I get a report that’s accurate, with a business plan, I won’t vote in favour of this.”
Coun. Bill Bestwick pointed out that “there’s no going back” on automated collection with the trucks and bins ordered, and Mema agreed.
“There are pieces I think can be changed from an implementation side of things, but we are committed on the capital side of things,” he said.
The motion to withdraw and table the bylaw amendment passed unanimously. It is expected to return to the council table Dec. 11.