The Comox Strathcona Waste Management board opted for the status quo for yard waste tipping fees for Courtenay residents.
The move was in response to a request from the City of Courtenay to waive the fees due to curbside pick-up disruptions. The main reason seems to be that in the time from when the city made the request to the CSWM meeting on Sept. 7, the issue had been resolved.
Hauling company Emterra had faced worker shortages, which led to delays in pickups, particularly in August, throughout the region.
“The effects were definitely much more pronounced in the City of Courtenay, given their sheer size and collection frequency,” said Vivian Schau, senior manager of CSWM services.
She said city public works staff members were temporarily deployed to collect waste during the delays. In response, the city wrote the CSWM board on Aug. 26 asking for tipping fees for residents to be waived.
Doug Hillian, one of the Courtenay council representatives on the CSWM board, confirmed the request was in effect redundant by the time of the meeting.
Ken Grant, one of the Comox directors, said he did not support any waiver for Courtenay.
“If this does pass, could you add Comox to the list because we’ve had the exact same issues as Courtenay,” he said.
He also suggested the community should consider separating commercial customers from the contract to allow them flexibility to find their own private hauler.
“It’s just not adequate for them not to get picked up,” he said.
Wendy Morin, also from Courtenay council, responded that the issue arose because residents did not want to be charged both for a scheduled pick-up and then pay tip fees while having to drop off materials when pick-up service was disrupted. This also meant additional costs for the city.
“I think it’s something we need to monitor,” she said. “I want to keep this on our radar.”
Grant added that one of the reasons for pickup problems came down to the shifting of collection days, which resulted in recycling pickup for Courtenay and Comox on the same days, which placed a burden on Emterra. He also noted the addition of a couple of contracts as a factor.
CSWM later confirmed that at no point were tip fees waived. However, the item still made it to the agenda for the recent meeting, and the CSWM board passed a motion to continue to accept yard waste and charge as per the fees and charges bylaw.
In a report to the board, staff noted reasons against waiving the tipping fee, including administrative burdens and challenges for staff in determining the place of origin of the waste, an increase in small vehicle traffic to the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre and that the move would not address the root of the problem, which was being subsequently being managed by the hauler to re-establish curbside collection service.