Rolling out garbage carts to Penticton is going to cost more than was originally expected.
When they approved the switchover to carts and their distribution to homeowners throughout Penticton, city council budgeted $1.6 million
”There is a lot of work to launch this program, and we do need additional resources to do that,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations, explaining that another $176,000 is going to be needed.
”We figure we are now going to come in at just over $1.7 million,” said Moroziuk. “We are asking for one additional staff person for one year.”
Moroziuk said the city doesn’t have any staff members dedicated to solid waste management, and the work is normally done by Len Robson in addition to his duties as manager of public works.
“For the most part, that works just fine, but when we launch a big initiative like this, he’s just discovered that it’s too much for him to deal with, plus everything else he is dealing with,” said Moroziuk.
The new hire will also work on educating residents about recycling, a problem Moroziuk said could start costing the city if not dealt with.
When Penticton signed up with Multi-materials B.C. in October 2015, the deal came with a target of keeping contamination levels in the recycling stream below three per cent. So far, Moroziuk said, Penticton residents have failed to meet that target.
Based on 10 audits in 2015, Penticton currently is at 8.1 per cent contamination for residential. For multi-family units, the picture is even worse at 11.8 per cent.
“They are really telling municipalities you guys need to get out there and you need to reduce the contamination levels,” said Moroziuk, adding that the city is also failing to meet volume targets. The residential curb side minimum should be 135 kilograms per household per year, and multifamily is set at 75 kilograms per year.
Penticton is only seeing 120 kilograms in residential — far from the 180 kilograms level where the city would start to receive bonuses — and 73.8 for multi-family units.
“We are not meeting our targets, especially when it comes to contamination, and we are a little bit on the low side when it comes to residential diversion rates,” said Moroziuk. “We do need to do some work in terms of educating our public to address those two items.”
The contract with MMBC also includes the possibility of fines if targets aren’t met. While MMBC hasn’t implemented them yet, Moroziuk said his understanding is it could cost the city $5,000 per occurrence.
“They haven’t indicated they are going to move in that direction, but they are saying you need to start to take some steps,” he said. “Their position is we want to work with you, we want to educate the public.”
Moroziuk said that meeting those targets can be a time-consuming project according to municipalities that have achieved it.
“Once they have educated the public things seem to move along fine. It is like most things, once you figure out what it is you are supposed to do, people just do it, but we are not quite there yet,” said Moroziuk.
One method might be finding out what the highest offending items are — plastic wraps and magazines may be two — and educating through mailouts and newspaper ads. The new recycling carts provide an option for education as well, but a key method will be simply examining people’s recyclables, then knocking on their door to talk to them about it.