Compost collection bins, similar to these Salmon Arm ones, are the largest cost of a curbside pickup program, which Vernon is hoping to secure with a grant. (File photo)

Compost collection plan ripens in Vernon

Household program pushed forward, grant dependent

An estimated $1.41-million compost collections program could be picked up sooner than expected if a grant covering two-thirds of the cost comes through.

City of Vernon staff applied to a time-sensitive grant on Feb. 2 which would significantly reduce the cost of implementing an organics diversion program.

“The biggest cost is the cost of purchasing the bins ($935,000),” the city’s long-range planning and sustainability manager Laurie Cordell said.

Vernon council approved the plan at its Monday, Feb. 8, meeting (Coun. Scott Anderson declared a conflict), but support is contingent on the funds.

“They may not grant it to us which then when we consider the full cost of the program we may have to reconsider,” Cordell said. It’s unlikely the grant will be offered next year.

With full council support, and if approved for the grant, the program would be in place by the 2024-deadline for spending.

City staff have already been sussing out the compost situation through an initial expression of interest which will be followed up with a request for proposals — this is expected to be completed by late March 2021. The information would be returned for council consideration sometime in April.

READ MORE: City of Vernon looking into curbside compost collection

“We’ve already seen just how receptive the community has been just with the compost bins alone, can you imagine what it would be with door-to-door service?” Coun. Kari Gares said.

There are concerns about the ongoing costs to run the program, which staff are uncertain of as it could lead to the city alternating garbage and compost for weekly pickup.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be cheap from day one, but this is something we’ve been talking about for six or seven years,” Coun. Dalvir Nahal said.

Investigating alternative methods to increase recycling and divert organics from landfill is part of council’s 2019-22 strategic plan, and the City of Vernon’s Climate Action Plan aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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