Rossland residents may see garbage collection change from every week to every second week this fall.
They may also have organic waste collection added to the service in the years to come if the recommendations of a report on the city’s waste collection system are accepted by council.
City councillors reviewed a report on waste management in the city on Jan. 6.
“We had a good discussion about it, council made a few motions,” giving the administration direction, says Mayor Kathy Moore.
The city now contracts to Alpine Group for waste collection. That contract ends in June (after being granted an extension). The city wanted to review the service before entering into a new contract sometime later this year.
The report on the service was by Dillon Consulting, who conducted public and stakeholder meetings on the issue in the fall.
The biggest recommendation includes reducing garbage collection from every week to every other week, saying it could tie in with an initiative to start collecting food and other organic waste.
“Results indicate there is buy-in from stakeholders and community members for reduced garbage collection service, particularly if an organics program is implemented,” says the report. “Reducing the frequency of garbage collection would have direct impacts on the overall cost of waste collection and disposal, potentially subsidizing a new organics collection program.”
A curbside organics pickup would see food waste moved out of the regular waste stream and into its own processing system.
“There is significant support for a source separated curbside organics program,” the report states, however adding that “there are several aspects of implementing this program that should be considered before a program is started.”
Among those considerations are the possible need for a semi-automated bin pickup system, extra staff to manage the program (at least for the first year), and an analysis of whether the existing collection route would have to be modified.
The report also makes recommendations about exploring the idea of centralized waste bins as a supplement to curbside pickup, and not changing the payment structure for garbage. The report further calls for changes to regulations to clear up problems with winter waste pickup, and better education initiatives.
Moore says the changes won’t happen overnight.
“None of that is going to happen soon,” she says. “It’s not going to be right away for sure.
“We really have to wait and see how this will work. We were really only giving staff some gentle direction on how we’d like to see garbage collected in the future.”
At the earliest, bi-weekly collection wouldn’t begin until a new waste collection contact is signed, sometime in the late summer or early fall. Setting up organic waste collection has to wait for the regional district to get its system in place, says Moore. That could take several years.
However, both changes are related. Moore says cutting service to bi-weekly would free up money that could help pay for the organic waste system.
Centralized collection bins
Overall, the report recommends maintaining the manual garbage collection system.
“Preliminary results indicate that the current method … is efficient and cost effective for Rossland,” says the report. “Stakeholders and residents have positive feedback on this collection method based on the infrastructure and access issues.”
The study also recommended more research be done on the idea of a centralized garbage collection system, that would see collection bins placed in strategic locations around town, allowing residents to put their waste in them instead. However, the report recommends “that further engagement and research be completed regarding opportunities for centralized collection.”
The renewal of the waste disposal contract will likely mean higher costs for taxpayers, and that will also affect where council goes with its planning for changes to the system.
Garbage fees have remained unchanged since 2014 and will go up $6.91 per year, a three per cent increase.
Utility fees are also increasing for water, sewer and garbage, and will be seen on homeowners’ January bills.
Water fees will increase by approximately $25 per year for the average user, while sewer fees will increase by approximately $9.60 per year.