Close to 60,000 new automated garbage bins have been delivered to residences in the Regional District of Nanaimo. (PQB News File Photo)

Regional District of Nanaimo inundated by trash talk

Residents harshly critical of the new automated garbage bins

There’s been a lot of trash talking about the new garbage bins the Regional District of Nanaimo will use when it switches from a manual to automated service starting in October.

As of, Aug. 27, the RDN has delivered 59,994 of them, and not all residents are liking what they see.

RDN phones have been ringing off the hook from residents who are complaining about the size of the carts, the fee to change cart sizes, and the carts not being conducive for residences with long or steep driveways.

And a lot of callers have not been very cordial when relaying their complaints to RDN staff.

“I did expect a lot of calls from residents which is inevitable with introduction of a new program like this, said Larry Gardner, Manager, Solid Waste Services. “However, I have been surprised by the belligerence of a surprising number of callers.

“I am proud of the what the RDN and our community has achieved as leaders with solid waste management, having one of the lowest per capita disposal rates in the world. I appreciate residents passion regarding solid waste management…I am surprised by the disrespectful communication directed at RDN staff.”

The RDN is switching to an automated garbage collection service to reduce injuries to workers and improve efficiency.

“Lifting garbage, recycling and organics containers at an average of 700 homes and 5.2 tonnes on a daily basis, the equivalent of two elephants, takes its toll on the drivers, not to mention trips, slips and falls,” Gardner pointed out. “Before embarking down this path, we did a lot of consultation with our community and work safety and reduction of injuries was shown to be highly valued by our residents.”

RELATED: Regional District of Nanaimo to start delivering new garbage carts

Gardner said this type of system is used throughout North America in urban and rural settings where jurisdictions face the same challenges of steep or long driveways, cart storage, and use when there is a snowfall.

“They have all adapted to the change,” said Gardner, who pointed out that there are a number of commercially available cart pullers and that residents can contact the RDN for more information.

The RDN has also produced a short video on how they work. You can watch it at

The sizes of the new cart varies. The default for recycling is 240L but there are smaller 100L and a bigger 350L cart options as well.

Gardner said residents must consider that all recycling needs to go in the cart e.g. cardboard boxes and rigid plastic containers. They are expected to last for 10 years.

“Recycling commodities are expected to increase over this period,” said Gardner. “Residents should consider that recycling will increase over time.”

Those wanting to change to carts face a $50 administration fee. Gardner said the fee covers the contractor cost to pick up and drop off replacement bins, including adjusting the radio-frequency identification on each bin, which is assigned to each house.

Residents were also given advance notice and four months to choose their bin sizes, Gardner said.

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