Cumberland is following the Town of Comox’s lead in requesting a re-think over closing the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre on statutory holidays.
Comox sent the Village of Cumberland a letter about the results of the regional waste management authority’s decision to close the centre, based in Cumberland, on holidays to save money, as of Jan. 1, 2021.
The letter, signed by Mayor Russ Arnott, was copied to all the municipal partners within Comox Strathcona Waste Management, along with the Comox Valley Regional District. He notes the town is aware that CSWM expects to save about $30,000 by closing on holidays but that the decision was not supposed to have an impact on the public.
This is not the case, according to Arnott. On top of this, local governments will have to put aside funds for marketing and communications to inform the public about new schedules.
“These collective hard costs will surpass the money being saved by the CSWM from the closures, and those new expenses will be borne by our tax payers, who will receive a reduced quality of service,” he writes, adding that Comox is asking the waste collection company to deliver waste on statutory holidays.
Cumberland’s council members took their turn at the Nov. 23 meeting. Coun. Sean Sullivan, who sits on the CSWM board, said that the decision was made about a year ago, and at the time it seemed like a way to save money without affecting service significantly, but the collection day has since switched from Wednesday to Monday. As well, the CSWM board has missed some meetings due to COVID-19 challenges and has not been able to deal with the issue.
“It’s kind of flown under the radar until now,” he said, adding he agreed Monday closures will now make collection more difficult in the community.
Staff said they have talked to the hauler, Emterra Environmental, about the schedule issues, particularly five days that would be affected in 2021, and whether add-a-day practices for collection schedules could work region-wide.
“This is something that has created challenges for sure,” chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said.
Manager of operations Rob Crisfield added that with Courtenay moving to an add-a-day program, it throws off scheduling in places like Cumberland. He said this needs to be solved before Family Day, the first holiday Monday on the new schedule.
“We’re talking about residential garbage, but it’s the whole commercial [bin-dumping] as well being impacted by this,” he added. “Nobody’s had that discussion.”
Council passed a motion to write a letter to the CSWM board about the impact of the closure policy. The CSWM board holds its next meeting on Dec. 3.