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Waste Pilot Program coming to East Hardisty

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Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

The neighbourhood of East Hardisty will be testing out new garbage bins during the Solid Waste Management Pilot Program set to roll out before the end of February.

Council got its first look at the program during the standing committee meeting on Jan. 25, but changes to the current waste collection system have been discussed for several years. 

Significant capital investment and ongoing operating dollars are required to maintain the current service delivery model, which prompted the town to review options and modernize the system.

This pilot program allows a phased approach of management practices with full implementation to be approved through the 2020 Budget process.

East Hardisty was suggested as the trial area for reasons including the size of the neighbourhood, no commercial customers, and a minimum number of condos.

The pilot will begin after a full public engagement and communications plan.

An open house is to be held to inform residents from the selected area, outline the program benefits, and detail how it aids management of illegal dumping.

Emdad Haque, director of infrastructure services, explained that a current garbage truck could be utilized for the program with an added cart grabber and recently replaced lift.

The cart grabber has a price tag of  $15,000, but CAO Emily Olsen stated the pilot project is achievable with the current proposed budget and no additional increases are required.

The proposed 2020 Budget does include a capital request for a garbage truck, which would be purchased to facilitate the full expansion of the residential waste program and replace an older existing garbage truck. 

Replacement bins are included in the 2020 and 2021 Capital Plan as well, stated the report from administration.

All current 624 garbage bins in East Hardisty would be removed and utilized in the current bin inventory for other neighbourhoods.

Haque explained that the low cost of the new bins would allow for a multiple bin collection system of recyclables and garbage in the future, but that decisions on that option are currently premature.

Coun. Dewly Nelson asked if a waste audit was possible to run simultaneously to the pilot project in order to help make future decisions on recycling and garbage options.

Haque explained an audit wouldn’t be effective and useful unless a multiple bin system is introduced.

“Once we will be replacing the garbage trucks (pending Council’s budget approval) we will be looking for bins measuring scale installed on the garbage trucks. These measurements will help determine the frequency of emptying the bins,” he stated.

Administration can troubleshoot issues prior to a full implementation of a new residential waste collection system. Pending the budget, administration expects a full community rollout of the new system by June, said Haque.

Coun. Tyler Waugh questioned if that is enough time to learn the lessons, absorb them, and adapt the project for a June rollout.

The project is tested in similar sized towns across Alberta who are sharing their knowledge about the program, Haque explained.

“We are learning from them, and we’re confident that we will succeed in this pilot,” he said.

The new system includes 96 gallon black Toter bins, which are 33 per cent smaller than the current 144 gallon bins. Current bins cost $530 and are high maintenance with no warranty, while the new bins cost $75, include 12 years warranty, no assembly, and are low maintenance.

The new bins also have the option of being trackable through Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and are stamped with the town logo.

Haque explained that administration considered all factors such as wind and wildlife when selecting the right bins for the upgrade.

“The lids of the proposed new bins are better than our existing bins, so, we are expecting better performance of these bins. We will be monitoring the performance of these bins in our Pilot Program,” said Haque.

Administration anticipates the new system to have lower capital and operational costs, and be more operator friendly. 

Changes to the solid waste collection system were postponed in early 2018 due to work on the Solid Waste Management Pilot Program five year operations plan that could influence the Town options.

A draft Solid Waste Management Strategy will be presented to Council in February as part of the stakeholder engagement process, stated the report.