Nanaimo considers broader roll-out of garbage automation

NANAIMO – City council asks staff members for report on recommendations for automation in core services review.

Automated garbage pick up in central Nanaimo is on hold as city officials consider a broader rollout.

Nanaimo city council has cancelled a request for proposals that would have awarded a $1.6-million contract to purchase new wheeled carts to Rehrig Pacific Company and called for a review of recommendations on automation in the new core services review.

The move will delay the rollout of automated garbage service for one-third of the city in central Nanaimo, which was supposed to be the first to see the new service this November.

Staff members will now look at potentially automating the whole city, according to Charlotte Davis, city manager of sanitation, recycling and public works administration, who said there are major cost savings to be had to purchase all of the wheeled carts in one request for proposals.

“We’re just looking at a different way to roll it out,” she said.

City council considered automation last year when staff proposed a three-year, $6.8-million plan to buy eight new automated trucks and 90,000 curbside bins as a way to address a collection system taxed by staff injuries and mechanical problems. Recycling would also be pulled in-house.

Some politicians, however, took issue with the expense of eight trucks and preferred starting off with a commitment of just two.

The core services review, released earlier this year, compared two options for automation: the purchase of six more new automated trucks in three phases or the purchase of two trucks along with bins for $3.8 million, changing kitchen waste collection from weekly to bi-weekly service and continue to contract out recycling.

It said an analysis of the options indicates superior service under the first choice – the purchase of six trucks – the potential to pick up yard waste and a possible savings of $225,000 outweighs the disadvantage, which is being unable to contract out recycling again in light of restrictions of the collective agreement.

Davis hopes to present options to council about a strategy in August.