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Council approves modernization of waste collection system

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council approved the modernization of the municipal waste collection system for both residential and commercial customers with a full cost recovery model, during the regular council meeting on July 13.

A full cost recovery volume based fee structure will be developed based on service costs by administration.

A volume based fee structure could mean that residents pay based on the size of their bin, explained Emdad Haque, director of infrastructure services.

Residents could then pay for additional waste through a tag system, which would still need to be developed.

Coun. Trevor Haas noted this allows possibilities for people to have some cost savings in regard to both residential and commercial, as well as paying less for the volume of waste.

Haque added that residents are still able to bring their own garbage to the landfill free of charge if they want to. 

During times with increased volumes of waste, like Christmas-time, the Town will continue to place a larger bin in strategic locations in town.

A new truck in the modernization would replace the town’s oldest truck, while the middle truck was customized for the pilot area, and another truck is still used for the old bins.

Mayor Marcel Michaels pointed out that the town has three trucks and uses two for pickup currently as the oldest truck is just for backup.

He added that he didn’t see the urgency of purchasing a new truck prior to getting information on the pick up routes that will affect blue bins.

In case of truck failure, Haque said they have options to contract out a garbage truck that is currently on standby. 

Administration can move ahead with purchasing a new garbage truck to replace the old truck as the modernization of the system was approved.

Before the modernized system is implemented, a report will be brought to council on toter options upon council’s request.

“I want to see different options for bins, I really believe that the bins in the East Hardisty Pilot Project weren’t the best bins. 54 per cent complained about them blowing when empty, 10 per cent when full, lids opening,” Mayor Marcel Michaels said.

He added that he didn’t mind paying more for a better product.

CAO Emily Olsen stated this report could come back by the end of August at the earliest, which wouldn’t affect the ordering of the new truck and bins.

Once council has seen options for the bins, financials will be updated according to the bins chosen by council. 

Michaels stated that it is important to see options for different weights, designs, and sizes of bins.

“At the end of the day, I believe, we should purchase capital that represents the need and the want of the community. I want this to succeed, if we’re going to do a major shift in waste, I think we have to check out all of the issues we are hearing and that we suspect we have,” Michaels said.

Haque said there are no other alternatives for the design, but there are options for the materials and size of the bins.

He clarified that the old bins were 110 gallon, and the bins used in the pilot project were 96 gallon, which is average for what communities use.

The new truck will be able to handle new bins regardless of size and weight, Haque added.

Council requested another report on waste collection route options for the recommended modernized system.

Michaels noted that this report will help determine how the new system will impact service delivery.

Coun. JoAnn Race added that it will be beneficial to find out which areas will have major changes before the system is implemented.

Multiple residents part of the East Hardisty Waste Pilot Project reached out about switching their garbage pick up to the back alley as they previously did, due to their homes not being set up logistically for garbage pick up on the front street, Michaels mentioned.

Some challenges with picking up the garbage in the back alley are the overhead utility and driving issues, replied Haque.

The large blue bins in the back alley were located in areas where these things weren’t an issue, and administration clarified that multiple pick up locations in the back would be an issue.

“Operationally, we will try to implement the best efficient way, but if in any particular location or if on any particular street operationally challenges we will for sure look into the best alternative possible way to empty the bins,” Haque said.

Haque stated he hopes to complete the residential implementation before the end of the year. 

Council also moved ahead with public engagement including an online session and an in-person session on recycling options before the end of the first quarter 2021.

Olsen stated that the key benefits to modernization include addressing some of the health and safety issues experienced through the current automated garbage truck and system.

The current system is the cause of Hinton’s most frequent workers’ compensation board (WCB) claims.