Coquitlam continues garbage contract

Coquitlam city council extended its contract with Smithrite Disposal for another two years. - METRO CREATIVE
Coquitlam city council extended its contract with Smithrite Disposal for another two years.
— image credit: METRO CREATIVE

Coquitlam’s contract for garbage and recycling pick-up, which was due to be reviewed next month, has already been renewed.

City council made the decision behind closed doors last December — a month after the municipal election was held, city staff say.

Bill Susak, Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works, told The Tri-City News the city received an “unsolicited offer” from Smithrite Disposal to extend its contract with a price freeze at $5.8 million annually.

Under the agreement with Smithrite that ends June 30, 2012, the city had the option to extend the contract for three years.

Susak said council chose to lengthen it for only two years — until June 30, 2014 — as city staff are looking at future garbage collection options, including taking the service in-house and having it automated as it is in Port Coquitlam and Port Moody.

The study is due to be finished by the summer.

The issue of whether to go in-house or contract out garbage/recycling pick-up has been a hot topic for many years in Coquitlam.

The city hired Smithrite Disposal in 2009 at a price of $5.1 million for the first year after a number of residents criticized the trash collection of the previous contractor, International Paper Industries.

Of the four bids the city received, the Smithrite tender had the lowest costs but residents still saw their bills soar from $160 per household to $240. The following year, they rose again to $330. This year, Coquitlam households will pay $342 for garbage and recycling.

By comparison, PoCo residents will pay $176.30 for solid waste collection this year — a figure that has been static since 2009 due to successful green cart and recycling programs, said city spokesperson Pardeep Purewal. In Port Moody, the cost for single-family homeowners is $306.85 this year.

“In my mind, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Coquitlam needs to go automated in order to fulfill our commitments to up our recycling and diversion rates,” Susak said, noting Coquitlam’s landfill diversion “is at around 58%. We’re not doing that badly but we’re not stellar either.”

PoCo’s diversion rate is 62% while PoMo’s is 75% — well above Metro Vancouver’s recommended target of 70% for municipalities.

Susak acknowledged Coquitlam is behind the curve, particularly when it comes to diversion of food waste at multi-family complexes, where no official program is in place. The city serves 90% of multi-family units for recycling through Smithrite, “but we’ve got a lot of work to do for organics diversion.”

A request for comment from Mayor Richard Stewart was not returned by yesterday’s print deadline.



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