The city will not be stopping commercial garbage pickup after all.
With Councillor Jack McLeman out of the room due to a conflict of interest, a motion to replace the city’s aging commercial garbage pickup truck was narrowly defeated with a 3-3 vote at Port Alberni city hall on Monday. A tie is considered a defeat.
Speaking on behalf of CUPE, public works employee Brian Povey said that it made no financial sense for either the city or taxpayers to get rid of city provided commercial bin pickup. Povey is currently with the wastewater crew but has worked on the container truck before and spoke up the previous time commercial bin pickup was on the chopping block.
According to Povey, justifications for cutting the commercial service don’t take into account the cost of commercial container bin pickup at city facilities.
“There’s also the containers at all the city facilities—the Multiplex, ball parks, public works yard, city hall—there’s containers and they’re not paid for, it’s not worked into any of the budgets.”
Povey said that the non-city facility commercial container truck customers are off-setting the costs of the servicing of city facilities.
However, city manager Ken Watson said that customers were not being overcharged to compensate for the price of city facility garbage collection.
“Currently the bins that are getting picked up from the city facilities would roughly cost, and this is a lowball figure, $61,256.”
The city charges $31 for a weekly three-yard bin (2294 litres) and $62 for a six-yard (4587 litres) bin, with extra pickup fees of $47 and $94 respectively, public works clerk Sharon Janzen said.
According to Pete Bitter, city utilities accounting clerk, the city has 255 commercial bin customers.
Povey also believes that while private haulers within the city presently keep their container bin rates at or below city levels in order to compete, those rates would increase if the city stopped container bin pickup.
“If they’re paying $40-50 a pickup [outside city limits], what do you think is going to happen within city limits once the container truck’s gone?”
Sun Coast Waste Services, Nicklin Waste Services and Progressive Waste Solutions, who provide commercial bin pickup in and out of city limits, could not be reached for comment by deadline.
While switching city facilities that currently use the three- or six-yard commercial bins over to residential garbage carts has been suggested as an option by city engineer Guy Cicon, Povey said he doesn’t see that working for many of the city’s larger facilities.
“That is not going to work, especially for the Multiplex and then you’re going to have to contract container truck pickup.”
Residential bins come in three sizes, Janzen said; 80 litres, 120 litres and 240 litres.
Director of parks, recreation and heritage Scott Kenny said that even the larger residential garbage carts are “too small for what we need” for the larger city facilities like the Multiplex.
“They would likely work for the field houses or some of the other locations that have less frequent pickup.”
Kenny said that if the city got rid of its commercial bin pickup, a facility like the Multiplex would either require contracting out of garbage collection services or the conversion of a smaller city garbage truck that would allow it to pick up hydraulic bins at larger city facilities. The conversion would cost $3000 and each hydraulic bin would cost $5000 each.
Watson said that the decision to discontinue commercial pickup could still be reconsidered later.
Cicon reminded council that replacing the truck has come up before and that “it isn’t something we can delay for much longer just based on the condition of the equipment.”