At a regular City Council Meeting on Monday, July 10 five out of six Council Members voted to carry a motion to approve the purchase of an Automated Side Loading Garbage Truck and 3, 050 Collective Bins.
The total cost for the truck and bins is $478,611.00 (inclusive of applicable taxes and fees) and will be purchased from Rollins Machinery Ltd. of Langley B.C..
The date and fine details of the switch-over have yet to be determined, but after discussing all aspects from WCB to training employees on the new machines, council decided to purchase the truck and bins.
Mayor Don McCormick said, “[the current] trucks have essentially outlived their useful life; they’ve been on life support for the last four or five years and we are in a position right now to be able to purchase a new garbage truck, and we have a recommendation from staff.”
Councillor Bev Middlebrook started off by saying, “all I have to say is, I just think we get with the times. This is how it’s picked up and the safety of our staff and our staff’s health etc., I think that this is great; I’m excited for it.”
Councillor Sandra Roberts agreed and said, “It’s about time. We’ve been mulling this around for a long time let’s just do it; it’s in the budget, get it done.”
Councillor Albert Hoglund did not agree however, “well, I don’t want to be the stick in the woods but I won’t be voting for this Mr. Mayor because I think that, in my mind, it’s not the way to go. We’ve had a lot of garbage issues with the City over the past three years – about garbage cans, what to do and what not to do. I don’t have a problem with the garbage trucks that we have, or the way it’s being picked up.
“I think that this is an awful lot of money to spend on 3,050 collection bins and you’re only buying one truck. I believe the motion that came, or the recommendation that came from the committee of the whole, was to buy one new truck and one used truck, plus the collection bins. So we’re not even going with the original motion. This is a new recommendation from staff. If the one garbage truck breaks down, I guess it’s good luck.”
With regards to a solution for if a truck breaks down or needs repair, Director of Operations Mike Fox said, “if we had to we could rent a truck and they would get it here in two days. Or if we had to go back to the old style, we will have two of our old trucks, one that will be used for parts and the other as a back up or for leaf and yard waste. We’re starting to take the old trucks to festivals where it just sits there and we can pick it up. It was used for the Mine Rescue Competition, they said it worked really well. So we would have a backup plan; we have researched the options there.”
Councillor Darryl Oakley asked for clarifications with regards to a report on WCB claims from garbage removal employees.
Fox responded with, “the physio report that you were talking about was probably about 12 or 13 years ago. We did follow all the recommendations. A lot of those recommendations were to limit the amount of hours somebody’s on a truck, to switch up the crew, [in order] to avoid repetitive strain injury. But then what was happening is: you do garbage for a day or two, you go on another one, and WCB couldn’t say where the lower back strain was from, or the tweaked knee. Most of our incidents that we had are from slips in the winter on garbage cans or lifting, from employees. Yes they did modify for the bins to go down farther [in height], but it still ends up being one of the most unpopular positions for the City workers, and seems to have the most related injuries as far as we can see.”
Oakley responded, “I’m trying to get to the cost. What is the cost of the taxpayers of Kimberley when they’re using that method of garbage pickup? I’ve never been able to see those numbers. You have a new truck with a hydraulic arm – that should be a savings.”
Fox couldn’t provide a number but said he would look into it.
“We talked about this before that all of the other communities are doing this, in the East and West Kootenays, and they said it was great. They had no problems with the truck.” said Councillor Middlebrook. “With injuries and the cost to injuries; I just really think the value of our staff and our labour, their health and physical health is really important. At whatever cost, we have to put that as a high priority.”
Councillor Kent Goodwin said, “workers compositions costs aside, there is something important that suggests it’s actually more efficient if you just compare the time it takes to do it manually and the time it takes to do it with a machine.”
“It is more efficient,” said Kelly Beriault, Manager of the Roads and Operations Department for Kimberley. “That would be the intent. To train two operators originally so that they would be rock-stars at operating the garbage truck and then make sure that we have enough depth within the ranks to fill that position.”
McCormick stated that Elkford has been on this method for eight or nine years, and there is a perceived increase in the level of service.
“I hope that one day we will be in the position to get curb side recycling as well,” said Councillor Nigel Kitto.
Councillor Oakley asked about those residents who have already had to purchase garbage bins in the past, wondering if they will be reimbursed.
McCormick responded by saying, “so there’s no question that we’re going to take a little heat for the indecisiveness on this, this is about the fourth pivot that councils have done. But I think that the reasons why we are moving forward on this are to move us into the 21st Century with respect to how we are collecting garbage. We are one of the last municipalities in East Kootenay to do this.”
Kimberley’s Chief Administrative Officer, Scott Sommerville said with regards to the old bins, “I just wanted to say that a lot of people were already using garbage cans so it’s not every citizen in town. I went and bought one for $17, and that’s regretful for the people spending their hard-earned money – us switching the system. But those garbage cans can be repurposed for other uses such as yard waste or recycling. I had a lid blow away on my garbage can and it’s now been put to use for other purposes.”
McCormick ended the discussion with, “I think the key thing here is that no one will be asked to buy a new garbage can, these will be provided by the City.
“The communication of the new system is going to require some work, but this is a commitment to move forward in a very defined manor, and we look forward to a successful outcome on this.”