Councillors take up garbage complaints

Coun. Andy Adams says the garbage issue “isn’t going away” and he still receives complaints from people who have had their trash left on the curb by the garbage collectors

Coun. Andy Adams says the garbage issue “isn’t going away” and he still receives complaints from people who have had their trash left on the curb by the garbage collectors.

Adams said most recently he heard from a resident who didn’t have his garbage picked up because the contractor, Emterra, had determined his load of garbage was overweight.

But the complainant weighed the garbage himself and knew it was at the correct weight, said Adams.

“Complaints are solely based on the subjective nature of collection,” said Adams at last week’s Tuesday council meeting. “I hope we can get this corrected and I urge city staff to bring forward suggestions.”

Coun. Ziggy Stewart agreed the city has a problem on its hands.

“For a lot of people having these issues, they feel they’re paying more but getting less,” said Stewart. “We can’t gloss it over and pretend it’s not there. Obviously there’s some issues.”

Stewart himself was a victim of picky garbage collectors.

He said he accidentally left a glass bottle in his recycling box only to find not only had the bottle not been taken away but the entire bin of recycling had been left.

The city changed its garbage collection regulations to one can with a volume of 80 litres and weighing 20 kilograms last January.

Hundreds of complaints from the public pushed the city to implement a grace period until April to educate the public on the changes and how to meet the new standards.

Since that time, city hall has still been dealing with angry customers.

City Manager Andy Laidlaw said staff met with Emterra last week to go over the rules and re-iterate Emterra’s responsibilities and since then, the complaints seem to have decreased.

“We had a blip there in terms of complaints but it seems to be settling down now,” said Laidlaw, who also spoke with Emterra about customer relations.

“There has been some abuse of Emterra staff by the public but that seems to be few and far between,” he said.

Coun. Claire Moglove believes the problem is the change in flexibility.

She acknowledged under the previous contract, Emterra was a lot more lenient with people who were filling their one can above the allowable volume and now that is no longer the case.

“With the new contract not only has the flexibility lessened but there is no flexibility whatsoever and it’s creating problems for lots of people,” said Moglove. “Can’t we discuss with the contractor when to be flexible?

“For instance, if you forgot and put a glass bottle in the recycling, can’t they still take it, but just not the glass bottle?

“I don’t understand why we can’t have some flexibility.”

Laidlaw said he would take those concerns to Emterra and believes the issues will be reduced as the city works more closely with the contractor.