The Village of Cumberland is considering an idea to work with other Comox Valley municipalities on a single system for curbside waste collection.
The idea came up at a meeting this month, with council discussing the possibility of a joint request for proposal (RFP) for service.
A staff report notes the City of Courtenay is leading the process. Along with the Town of Comox, the three local governments would issue an RFP for a three-stream curbside collection service that could be partly or fully automated.
“We’ve been working on this for a while, having discussions on looking at perhaps a regional approach to leverage some stronger pricing and look at cart systems,” manager of operations Rob Crisfield told council.
The current contract with Emterra Environmental, according to the staff report, will expire at the end of March, though it could be extended by six months.
For Cumberland, the village would need to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Courtenay and Comox to start the process. Potentially, a joint RFP would see the member municipalities paying proportionally based on population, though each community would continue to manage its own solid waste collection program.
Council passed the motion to enter into the MOU to consider issuing a joint RFP for a curbside collection contract.
The plan is to set up a new service contract for five years, with the possibility of a five-year extension. The two collection systems up for consideration are a fully automated one in which trucks have articulated, hydraulic arms to lift and tip carts into trucks. For the semi-automated option, drivers have to manually align bins with the arm using a joystick. Standardized carts would have to be purchased for each residence registered for collection. The lead time to switch to some level of automation is estimated at 12-18 months.
There was support for the idea of moving toward a larger system for all three municipalities.
“I’m definitely in favour of a regional approach,” Coun. Vickey Brown said.
She also wondered about working social procurement opportunities into the contract if the other places do not have these policies in place yet. Chief administrative officer Clayton Postings said they have requested this be included, but he was not sure of the details at this time.
Council also had questions about the possibility of the automated cart system.
Coun. Sean Sullivan wondered about options for smaller carts and smaller fees, should people not need a large cart.
Another concern raised by Coun. Jesse Ketler was the effectiveness of automated cart pick-up during snowy weather conditions, including access on roads. Crisfield responded this can be an issue, particularly in northern communities, and said people have to be patient when following trucks until the trucks can pull over to let vehicles pass.
“It’s a challenge when you’ve got snow,” he said.