- BC Games
Big changes for Coquitlam's garbage collection
Coquitlam's way of collecting trash by hand is about to be tossed out.
On Monday, council unanimously approved a seven-year deal with BFI Canada Inc. for automated curbside pick-up for the city's approximate 25,000 single-family homes. The service will start July 1, 2014.
Under the contract, which will cost taxpayers $2.7 million a year plus another $1 million annually (for seven years) for standardized carts, Coquitlam residents living in detached homes can expect to get from the city:
• one 240-litre bin for garbage that will be collected every two weeks;
• and one 240 l "bear-resistant" bin for organics — food waste and yard trimmings — that will be collected every week.
As in neighbouring Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby and New Westminster — which have had automated collection and standardized bins for years — Coquitlam residents will be able to get bigger or smaller bins, and have their utility rate adjusted accordingly.
But Coquitlam has yet to iron out the details of its future recycling program.
Next spring, the collection of packaging and printed paper will be the responsibility of Multi-Material BC (MMBC), a stewardship group made up of retailers and other packaging producers that — at the direction of the province — will pick-up recyclables from single-family and multi-family homes around B.C.
Not collecting recyclables will save Coquitlam about $1 million a year, city staff say.
Besides collecting trash and organics from single-family homes in Coquitlam, BFI Canada will also be charged with:
• collecting unlimited yard trimmings four times in the spring plus four more times in the fall;
• removing and disposing waste from civic facilities and public litter bins;
• collecting recyclables from the city's two recycling depots;
• and picking up large items to four times a year (at the homeowner's request).
At Monday's city council meeting, Steffanie Warriner, Coquitlam's manager of environmental services, said the aim of the new program is to encourage residents to think about what they place in the trash.
She cited the example of Port Moody, which from 2008 to 2011 saw 30% less garbage going to landfills after its collection system went automated and the city moved to a biweekly pick-up. In 2011, Port Moody had a diversion rate of 75% while Coquitlam's was around 55% — well below Metro Vancouver’s recommended target of 70%.
The push to reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill comes as Metro Vancouver eyes 2015 to ban organics from trash.
Warriner also said the switch to BFI will help the city achieve its environmental targets as the Coquitlam company's trucks will be powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). Currently, Smithrite, which has the city collection contract, uses diesel to power its trucks. BFI will be purchasing new vehicles and equipment to service Coquitlam.
Warriner said the city will budget $350,000 to help the public understand the new program. Before and after the rollout, there will be an outreach that will include community meetings and a temporary call centre.
Mayor Richard Stewart said the timing of the new collection contract proved fortuitous for the city as MMBC gets ready for its May 14, 2014 start date.
Coun. Craig Hodge said the changes will take some time to get used to. And he hopes any savings in the transition to an automated, less frequent service — plus the MMBC recycling component — will be spent on upgrades to recycling depots. Hodge suggested the city set up a one-stop shop to recycle items such as Styrofoam and batteries.
"We have to make recycling easy," he said. "If we make it easy, [residents] will do it."
Coun. Lou Sekora said homeowners won't like the every-other-week pick-up for trash while Coun. Brent Asmundson said he wants to see more than four extra collections for fall trimmings in the spring and the fall.
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.
Residents saw their bills soar from $160 per household to $240 in 2010. The following year, they rose again to $330. Last year, Coquitlam households paid $342 for garbage and recycling and this year $349.
City spokesperson Kathleen Vincent said, under the new BFI contract, the city doesn't yet know the final impact on utility rates.