By Doug Collie, Editor
North Battleford City Council has essentially agreed to purchase roll-out black garbage bins for street-front pickup, replacing replace the current communal bins and roll-out blue recycling bins for city residents from a third party.
The decision is expected to be ratified when council finalizes its budget, probably during its Jan. 27 council meeting. The bylaw setting the mill rates is for that budget expected to pass some time in February.
It’s possible the process to scrutinize and decide on this year’s budget could be completed after the next budget meeting this coming Monday night at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers. That meeting is open to the public.
The projected cost for the roll-out garbage and blue bin collection service is $16.50 per resident per month. The service will be provided every second week – black garbage bins one week, blue recycling bins the other week.
The blue recycling bins are expected to be provided to residents in about three or four months, according to Mayor Ian Hamilton. The garbage bins are expected to be provided to residents later this year; Hamilton is not sure quite when they’ll be available.
Councillors anticipate people who have already bought blue recycling bins will be reimbursed, perhaps on a pro-rated basis.
Council had looked at providing service on a weekly basis because residents had raised concerns about smell and possible health issues. But for now at least, council has decided to go with bi-weekly service because the contractor would have to purchase more equipment and perhaps hire more staff to provide weekly service, thus increasing costs.
It was pointed out that bi-weekly service is currently provided in other cities – including major ones – with no apparent smell or health problems.
However, council will assess the service after it has been implemented for a while and may go to weekly service if that’s considered necessary.
The bins, which have a life expectancy of about 20 years, will arrive this year and be paid for over four years.
People living in duplexes or fourplexes will be able to obtain bins for those suites, Hamilton says. He says those operating apartment buildings or condos obtain their own garbage collection services.
Last November, city administrative staff had recommended going with blue bag recycling rather than the roll-out bins but the Chamber and Loraas lobbied against that. It was pointed out Loraas has been in the city for some time now; is spending roughly $4 million on facilities in the Parsons Industrial Park, and has hired local staff. A proposal by Ever Green Ecological Services Inc.,of Sherwood Park, Alta., the company promoting blue bag recycling, was initially much cheaper. However, that company said it would only likely set up an office in the community, not necessarily buy supplies from local businesses, as Loraas does.
Later, three firms were invited to revise their proposals. After that, city budget documents submitted Wednesday night estimated the cost for blue bags at $6 a month and blue bins at $6.50 a month. (A third company was invited to bid, but its prices were so high administrative staff said it wasn’t really a factor).
Council noted city residents would have to buy the blue bags. It was suggested that would cost more than the 50-cent difference between the two prices.
Council decided to go to the roll-out garbage bins to solve the problem of people abusing the communal bins by dumping all kinds of stuff in there, including transmissions. Many of those who dumped stuff into the bins were from out of town.
The other goal is to cut down on the amount of garbage going to the city landfill so it doesn’t fill up so quickly. The other cells of the landfill filled up much faster than city officials anticipated. A new landfill is expected to cost millions of dollars.
The City has been running a pilot project with roll-out bins and it’s proven quite successful. The amount of garbage picked up has been reduced. The problem of stuff being dumped in communal bins has moved outside the test area, to where the communal bins are. The theory is, once there are no more communal bins, the problem will be largely – if not completely – solved.
During discussion, Hamilton noted the City’s waste management utility had realized a surplus of about $600,000.
Councillor Ryan Bater suggested about $300,000 of that could be used to offset the cost of obtaining the bins, thereby cutting costs for residents. He said the other $300,000 could go into reserves. Hamilton and other councillors are open to that idea.
“Maybe we could reward the ratepayers a little bit by using these funds,” Hamilton said to reporters.