West Kelowna stays out of garbage photo plan

R.J. Sajna cleans snow off large yard waste bins already marked with radio frequency tags at Glenmore landfill on Feb. 10. - Sean Connor
R.J. Sajna cleans snow off large yard waste bins already marked with radio frequency tags at Glenmore landfill on Feb. 10.
— image credit: Sean Connor

West Kelowna will continue to remain apart from a regional waste management system that would collect data on residents' waste disposal patterns and take photos of bin contents.

The district first opted out of the system in late October of 2010. The system using RFID technology is intended to prevent contamination of yard waste and recycling streams with the wrong materials. The technology would allow truck drivers to easily record transgressions.

Coun. Carol Zanon said there are concerns in council over whether this a service West Kelowna should have. She said she would like to see more control on privacy issues.

Zanon noted there should be a regular programmed check on the security of the information being held, a check that should be reviewed after a one year period. She added there should be a more stringent definition in the contract of what constitutes personal information.

Coun. Bryden Winsby said his concern is what happens if West Kelowna is not satisfied with the agreement. The contract would remain in effect for five years, with no provision to opt out.

Coun. Rosalind Neis pointed out the district is being asked to pay a fee for a program that infringes on the rights of West Kelowna citizens.

She added that not everyone in the region participates or pays into the system the same way. She added there is a potential for the system to be used correctly, if the regional district would allow credits to be given to people who do not use the waste system as much.

Peter Rotheisler, waste reduction manager for the Regional District of Central Okanagan, noted that is one of the potential benefits, but to change to such a billing model would first require very good data on system usage and how it varies.

Coun. Gord Milsom noted that if West Kelowna did not take part in the system, the annual cost of waste inspection at the landfill would come to $4.61 per residential unit.

He said that if the district chose to be part of the system, it would cost $1.68 annually per residential unit. He pointed out that the city of Kelowna anticipated even if the RFID system was in place, there would still be some inspection needed for yard waste.

Rotheisler said the city of Kelowna had not indicated there would be an extra charge for monitoring yard waste at the landfill.

He noted that if West Kelowna waits a year to sign on to the program, the cost of participating would be the same but amortized over a shorter period of time. The per household cost per year would likely be higher than $1.68 per unit.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he can't see sticking West Kelowna residents with the extra cost. He added the city of Kelowna is calling the shots on the issue, and West Kelowna has very little choice.

"I continue to have concerns on whether this is effective," said Findlater.

The motion to take part in the RFID system was defeated, with Zanon, Neis, Winsby and Milsom opposed.

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