The Regional District of Nanaimo will switch to an automated waste collection system.
The board made the decision, although not unanimously, at its regular October meeting to direct staff to begin a request for proposals for automated collection of garbage, recycling and organics, with carts of varying sizes. The board also voted to amend service rates for solid waste and recycling collection.
RDN directors Bill Veenhof (Area H), Joe Stanhope (Area G), Julian Fell (Area F) and Kirk Oates (Parksville) voted against the amended automated garbage collection motion.
Prior to the decision, manager of solid waste services Larry Gardner informed the board that they need to issue an RFP now as the current solid waste and recycling contract with Waste Connections Canada is set to expire on March 31, 2020 and any major changes in the service will require about a year of preparation as new equipment and vehicle need to be procured.
Gardner also indicated that going automated would improve worker safety, reduce wildlife interactions, improve neighbourhood aesthetics, and offer a yard waste collection option. The challenges Gardner pointed out include mobility concerns and the costs, which would be higher than manual collection.
The collection of garbage, recyclables and food waste is provided to approximately 29,000 single family households within the RDN that include those in the electoral areas, City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and the District of Lantzville.
Consultation was carried out through both an online survey and a focus group to gauge the public’s preference. In the online survey, overall, 45 per cent or 357 of respondents preferred automated collection with yard waste, while 18 per cent or 147 of respondents preferred automated collection without yard waste, and 33 per cent or 266 of respondents preferred to continue with manual collection. As well, 56 per cent or 452 of all respondents were willing to pay more for an automated collection service with yard waste.
RDN staff has looked at other municipalities and regional districts that included the City of Nanaimo to gain better understanding of their automated garbage collection systems.
The annual fee, based on a 100-litre garbage cart size service, for a manual collection replacement system is estimated to be near $170 and an automated collection service without yard waste is estimated at $200, an 18 per cent increase.
With yard waste included for automated collection on 80L or 120L organic cart sizes, the estimated annual costs are $215 and $245, respectively.