White Rock has decided not return to a city-managed model for solid waste collection from multi family and commercial buildings.
At Monday night’s meeting (Jan. 16) council voted unanimously to stay with the current policy of having multi-family and commercial buildings contract solid-waste collection from private companies.
But council also endorsed director of engineering and municipal operations Jim Gordon’s suggestion that he would approach the private contractors working in White Rock – through the Waste Management Association of B.C. – and have them create a plan to reduce traffic congestion, noise and greenhouse gas emissions from waste trucks on city streets on a six-month deadline.
Extra trucks on the streets had been one of the reasons for pushback from residents against the private contractor system, Gordon noted in his report to council.
The decision reverses earlier direction from council on Oct. 4, 2021, in which it asked staff to find a contractor to provide the waste collection under city management.
Gordon explained that there were “complex steps necessary to procure a contractor and complete the transition,” including challenges such as “establishing rates, having a completed billing structure, dealing with existing long-term contracts, and ensuring that costs to properties are not increased.”
Gordon said that – in looking into the background of why council originally chose the privatization route in 2015 – it was apparent that Metro Vancouver’s ban on organics in the garbage stream was creating a new, third waste stream for multi-family and commercial collection.
That, and inconsistencies in waste handling and compaction from building to building, “made it very inefficient for the city to continue with garbage collection, so it was privatized,” Gordon said.
Some pushback from residents was based on misunderstanding that the service had hitherto been free, he said, rather than paid for through taxes.
Coun. Christopher Trevelyan asked whether going with a city-managed model would increase rates for multi-family and commercial customers, but chief administrative officer Guillermo Ferrero said that it was very difficult to estimate, as the sample of residents surveyed so far was too small.
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