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Solid waste program nears approval in Powell River

City plans to implement automated collection using garbage carts
HOUSEHOLD COLLECTION: Showing the different sizes of automated waste bins the city could use in a tag-less garbage collection system are city operational services secretary Heather Ellis and manager of operational services Rod Fraser. It is proposed for most Powell River households that the 120-litre cart be used.
City of Powell River Council gave first three readings to a bylaw that outlines plans to institute an automated solid waste program using carts and doing away with garbage tags.

At the May 6 city council meeting, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the three readings, with final adoption of the bylaw slated for the May 20 city council meeting.

Councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said she was happy to see this coming forward.

“There are some changes coming that should make our solid waste service much better,” said Leishman. “It should improve the service and probably reduce costs for a lot of people in the end. It will lower our greenhouse gas emissions and lower the waste that is going to landfill, hopefully.”

Leishman said the initiative would make matters more convenient by getting rid of garbage tags, and having everybody able to fill up their new bins and putting them out at the curb, making it much more convenient.

“Hopefully, that will prevent some of the backwoods dumping we’ve seen for many years now,” said Leishman. “In our backcountry, and areas in town that are slightly off the beaten path, people will dump garbage because they don’t want to buy a tag and don’t want to drive to the waste-transfer site.

“I really appreciate that this is going to make things much more convenient for our residents and this is a good route to go so I fully support this.”

In a staff report to council, manager of operational services Rod Fraser stated that each residence will be provided one 120-litre household waste cart with the option for large families to purchase an additional cart and pay an additional fee.

Multifamily dwellings will also be accommodated, with one 360-litre cart for every three units within the building.

Fraser stated that automated collection has been proven in other communities to increase the speed of pickup as well as reduce staff injuries.

Residents who have mobility challenges can be accommodated through the new program, according to the report. Fraser stated that a walk-in list will be maintained where people with challenges can leave garbage carts in a place other than curbside.

Levy will increase

The 2020 cost of garbage services for taxpayers was $79 and this fee covered disposal, but not collection. The collection costs were covered by purchase of garbage tags. The solid waste bylaw proposes raising the annual solid waste levy to $120 per year with no bag tag requirements. If homeowners have garbage over and above that which fits in the 120-litre cart, they can still purchase tags for $5 for each additional bag, according to the report.

“The proposed increase results in less cost to a homeowner who uses this service biweekly,” stated Fraser in a media release. “Households that regularly put out one bag a week will see larger cost savings.”

The cost of the program is $534,000, which includes purchase of 6,300 carts at $80 each. There will also be funds allocated to community education, cart management software, extra staff time for implementation, contingency and miscellaneous costs. The city has applied for a grant to offset the cost of the purchase of the carts and is awaiting word on whether it is successful.

According to the media release, if the bylaw passes in two weeks-time, implementation of the program is set for fall of this year.