Some residents in the Regional District of Nanaimo are frustrated with what they say is a slow response to requests to have garbage bins replaced from default size to a larger bin.
Lantzville and other areas of the regional district outside Nanaimo city limits moved to automated waste pickup in October.
Parksville’s Carmen Crampton said she had asked the RDN in June or July to replace the default (100-litre) garbage cart agreed upon by the former owner of her home.
“I was told that because the bins were already out for delivery they wouldn’t be able to change them out right then,” said Crampton. “The lady I was speaking to said that they would be changed out before the start date at the beginning of October.”
Crampton said she has a family of five that produces a lot of recycling and trash.
“We are making weekly trips to the transfer station to deal with the extra garbage and recycling that doesn’t fit in the extremely small bins that the previous owners had ordered,” said Crampton.
“I did receive a call in early October at 7:30 a.m. telling me to put my bins out on the curb, that they were coming that day to change them out. They never came.”
Crampton said she estimated she contacted RDN five to eight times during October and November.
“I did receive one call back in mid-November telling me that I was in the schedule to have my bins changed out but she couldn’t tell me when,” said Crampton. “Then beginning of December I got a call telling me that they would change out the garbage bin the next scheduled pickup day and to leave my bin on the curb until 6 p.m. If it wasn’t picked up that week they would get it the following pickup day. Well, I’m still waiting for the new bins and here we are almost at the end of the month.”
Parksville’s Luisa Loberiza is also frustrated by a lack of response from the RDN. She said she has been trying to get her garbage cart replaced to the 240-litre size since October.
“I emailed them in October and November and I have never received a response,” said Loberiza. “It’s really disappointing. We used to have options in the past, buying stickers for extra garbage pickup. We don’t have that anymore.”
The RDN’s manager, solid waste services, Larry Gardner, apologized for the delay in responding to people and appreciate their patience. He indicated the RDN is out of 240L, 360L, and 80L carts at the moment.
“We should have a shipment of carts first week of January,” said Gardner. “Although we placed our order for carts back in October there have been delays in part due to COVID and also with transport delays over the holiday season. We put a lot of effort into cart selection in advance of the program, so we didn’t expect quite the number of cart change requests we have been getting. Right now, we are prioritizing swapping out the recycling carts from the 240L to 100L to free up the 240s so we can swap the lids for the garbage requests.”
Before shifting to automated collection service in October, the RDN delivered 87,000 carts between July and September.
Approximately 500 have been swapped so far, with another 1,800 carts still to be exchanged. Gardner said in December alone, they received approximately 700 requests.
Gardner said one resident has made 16 calls, which he says “bog things down.”
“For those that use the online portal for cart exchanges, which is preferred, they do get a confirmation e-mail,” said Gardner. “For phone calls and emails, our response time is currently two to five business days. For actually getting cart exchanges, we are currently looking at four to eight weeks. Once we get through this initial startup challenge, cart exchanges should happen in 14 business days.”