Comox council is voicing their concerns about garbage pickup in the town to the Comox Valley Regional District.
At the Aug. 11 council meeting, Coun. Nicole Minions described the challenge residents and some businesses are facing with Emterra.
”We’re obviously under a contract for service pickup and it has been a challenge due to a variety of factors from heat to staffing. What is the alternate solution or what action do we, Courtenay, Cumberland, the regional district if service keeps deteriorating for a multitude of reasons?”
Jordan Wall, the town’s chief administrative officer said garbage pickup has become a growing issue, and admitted service is not where the municipality would like it to be. He added all three CAOs are set to meet with Emterra later in August.
“We do have a little bit of delicate balance we need to strike,” he noted. “We’re not ready to move forward with a larger contract in order to bring the automated garbage machines in, so we will be asking Emterra voluntarily to re-extend their contract.”
With service delivery issues, he said the CAOs need to make sure Emterra is willing to continue to provide the service; however, they need to be accountable to the service in which they are contracted to do now.
“It is a larger question that we need to ask … it is a regional issue – it’s happening everywhere.”
Mayor Russ Arnott inquired about other service providers, and Wall noted there are other minor collection companies but Emterra has an exclusive contract with the three municipalities to pick up residential garbage, and in Comox, exclusivity over a number of commercial properties.
Coun. Ken Grant added garbage service within the town has been “abysmal” and it is beyond the point of excuses.
”They’re contracted to provide a service and they’re simply not doing it. I think we really have to be hard on it and get it done. They really need to be told this is not good enough for our citizens. We’re paying a lot of money for nothing.”
He added fluctuating garbage pickup dates is another issue he suggested Wall bring up at the meeting, who noted the changing of dates is due to the Comox Valley Regional District’s landfill closing on stat holidays.
After questioning the length of the contract extension (six months), Coun. Pat McKenna inquired if a request for proposals could be put out to garner the attention of another service provider.
Wall explained that is the direction the municipalities are headed in, but decisions need to be made prior to that step.
“What type of service are we going to have? Are we going to allow unlimited organics? Are we going to move to bins? Are we going to go to the automated tipping machines? If we are going to go down that road, we need to know who is going to own those bins? Are they going to be supplied by the municipalities or contractors? All of these need to be decided regionally,” he noted.
One of the goals the municipalities are working towards is to release a request for proposals at the same time in order to attract more applicants and decrease the overall price, Wall added.
“They started with their B game, and now they’re bringing their C game,” replied McKenna. “I don’t think it’s going to get better. The faster you can move toward the RFP the better off it’ll be for the Comox Valley.”
Council voted unanimously to write a letter to the regional district about their concerns.