TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Garbage bins and recycling bins line lawns bordering the alley behind Third Street in Brandon.
Residents of buildings with seven or more suites may see changes to the way their garbage is picked up in the future.
The city will now pick up trash and recycling just four days a week. (CITY OF BRANDON)
Brandon City Council will consider on Oct. 1 whether to stop providing garbage collection services to multi-family buildings with seven or more units, in exchange for a rebate or refund of some of the property owner’s tax bill.
City administration from the sanitation department have recommended this step because it will save more than $150,000 per year, and there is a belief that private sector companies can provide the service in a manner that makes the most sense, said Rod Sage, the city’s operations manager.
Sage said that by phasing the plan in over five years, property managers and owners can adjust their rental rates to accommodate the added expense of garbage collection. By requiring side-loading garbage trucks to handle the jobs, the property owners won’t have to make drastic changes to their properties.
"If we are going to go this way, we don’t want property managers taking an immediate hit, and they need time to work this into their rents and this is a phased-in approach," Sage said. "To help control the future costs of collection for those properties, the city would undertake a competitive bid process that provides cost certainty to the city and property owners during the five-year phase-out process."
The move is intended to help clean up back lanes that have been cluttered with a large number of garbage and recycling bins as each suite in a complex is assigned one of each to handle its solid-waste removal.
"If we maintain the status quo and don’t make any changes, it won’t address congestion in the laneways," Sage said. "We have a large number of carts near multi-family units that have suffered damage and we have significantly higher contamination levels where 33 per cent of units in multi-family units have received notices of non-compliance, where only 10.7 per cent of properties with six units or less have received notices of non-compliance. And we have a lack of co-operation from some property owners as well as tenants."
Coun. Jeff Harwood (University) asked Sage what happens with the garbage and recycling bins that have been deployed for use at complexes when they transition to a new garbage collection system.
Sage said the city would take those bins back and use them for the organics collection program, otherwise known as the green bin program, and by reusing them for that program, there would be future cost savings.
"As the city expands, we already have a surplus of carts we wouldn’t need to buy," Sage said. "Rest assured, they will get used as the city expands."
Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) asked how a new garbage collection system would work for larger multi-family complexes, and wondered if two large bins, one for garbage the other for recycling, was the solution.
"We are looking at larger bins while also looking at a recycling bin," Sage said.
"Part of our program is to work with these properties so that they understand what recycling is. There would be one larger bin for recycling, and the trucks will be equipped to be able to empty both types of containers."
Coun. Jim McCrae (Meadows) asked if the private contractors would be responsible for educating tenants and property owners about the changes, and Sage said that responsibility still rests with the city.
The shift away from garbage collection from larger complexes also frees up staff and resources to meet the demands of a new organics collection service to single-family homes and smaller multi-family units.
The plan was developed after consulting with 35 property owners representing 71 multi-family-unit properties and 2,139 units of the 3,066 of that type available in the city. Brandon’s sanitation department provides service to 17,571 single-family units in total, and 83 per cent of the units served by city sanitation staff will not be affected by these changes, but the 83 per cent pays into the system that collects garbage from multi-unit complexes.
Other options that were considered included buying a front-loading garbage truck and bins, and discontinuing service altogether. Sage said the second option has the least impact on the multi-family properties, but has a greater impact on the city in terms of capital costs. He added that multi-family complexes have the highest solid waste bylaw non-compliance rates in the city, with 30 per cent of existing bins being contaminated. Examples of this include placing refuse in recycling bins.
Sage said the report was presented on Monday without a request for an immediate decision so councillors could have time to read the reports, the recommendations contained within them and to consider the impacts a transition to private sector refuse collection would have on the landfill and recycling programs offered by the city.
"We believe this is sustainable," Sage said.
"There are a number of different views from property owners on what needs to be done, but the majority were supportive and understand this improves service to their properties."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 19, 2012