The City of Courtenay is discontinuing solid waste collection for multi-use four zone (MU-4) customers in apartment and condo complexes. The zoning also pertains to commercial/industrial.
In May, the city notified residents about the change in service — beginning Nov. 1 — and options for independent, contracted services.
MU-4 includes Tin Town at Rosewall Crescent, which contains 68 residential and commercial units.
“We were never consulted,” said Tom Romanuk, who owns a commercial space in Tin Town. “The word ‘disenfranchised’ comes to mind…If there’s a compelling financial reason for this, we should be told about it.”
He and others in Tin Town had expected two city officials to attend an Oct. 5 community meeting but said they did not show up.
At the Aug. 29 Courtenay council meeting, Wendy Morin was the lone member to oppose the change.
“I think it’s a unique neighbourhood, I don’t think it fits with the rest,” said Morin, who lived in Tin Town for 30 years. While it shares similarities with downtown Courtenay, she said the neighbourhood is more residential with home-based businesses. Residents don’t understand why trucks will only collect from one or two buildings, she added.
“I haven’t heard a compelling argument to include them in the multi-residential apartment and condo. It’s a different type of development. I’d like to hear from staff what the barriers would be to collecting from the residences.”
The city considers a property serviceable if it has at least five metres of unobstructed curbside frontage per unit, and has accessible roadways for collection vehicles. Properties that don’t meet the criteria need to find a private contractor.
“Having access to multiple service providers will present residents with a wider variety of options for collection styles and bin sizing,” a staff report states. “Property owners/tenants would be able to increase or decrease collection frequency based on their needs.”
Mayor Bob Wells noted that residential solid waste pickup is subsidizing commercial pickup.
“We’re not upset about it (service change), other than it’s going to cost us a little bit more money,” said Pam Munroe, a resident and strata accountant at Creekside Commons. “But we understand what the city is doing. People got lots of notice.”
After interviewing four companies — including Emterra Environmental — the Creekside strata settled on Waste Connections.
“It’s going to save the city money overall,” Munroe said, noting an added cost to families and commercial property owners. “We were paying about $1,900 a year for recycling and garbage at Creekside, and we’re now going to be paying $3,000. So it’s not a lot of difference.”
Earlier in the year, Courtenay and Comox selected Emterra for automated curbside collection for garbage, recycling and organics. The city will transition from weekly to biweekly garbage collection starting January 2024. Staff said residents can continue service options by contacting Emterra, Halton Recycling or another independent service.
In 2020, the City commissioned a third-party review of solid waste service costs that included several key findings:
•Multi-residential and Institutional/Commercial/Industrial collection services were operating at a deficit.
•While the shortfall only represented a small portion of the multi-residential/ICI operational cost, it represented the city’s entire administrative cost.
•This shortfall meant curbside collection services for multi-residential/ICI properties were being partially subsidized through user fees paid by single-residential households.