Two weeks into the new four-day garbage collection system and an old problem continues to rear its head: back lanes are still lined with garbage and recycling bins.
And while the month of October is being treated as a transition period, residents will start to get notices of non-compliance from the city if they don’t remove their bins within 24 hours of their garbage day. Repeat offences could lead to fines as large as $1,000, but public works director Ian Broome said the sanitation department would rather educate and work with residents to comply with the bylaw rather than fine them.
"There’s an awful lot of containers still in the lane," Broome said. "We will be addressing that by giving notices of first and second offences if needed, and by emailing property owners in some cases. We’ll give everyone the month of October to get into the groove before we start reminding them of the bylaw and handing out notices. This month will be a learning curve for all of us."
Broome said the sanitation department drivers are picking up more than 1,100 carts per shift, which is better than the estimated 600 Winnipeg drivers are picking up in a shift.
"Right now the weather is good and we haven’t had any problems," Broome said.
"But if we can’t get down the lanes, it may take us longer. I’m really impressed with the staff. They have really come together, stepped up to the plate and are doing it within their time. There’s been a couple of hours of overtime, but that’s it."
For the most part, those who have talked to Broome directly about the new pickup schedule have liked the change.
"It’s only in its second week, but I have heard way more positive remarks than negative," Broome said. "I heard a couple of negative remarks where they said they didn’t know the system had changed. So they were putting their refuse out and wondered why it wasn’t being picked up. That was the biggest thing and I heard that concern from two people."
Broome said if there is a disappointment, it’s that more people have not heard about the changes in garbage, recycling and organics collection. However, Broome remained pleased that the four-day collection cycle, which he said was part of a 2007 strategic plan, has finally been implemented.
One of the reasons to move to a four-day collection cycle, aside from better managing garbage pickups around stat holidays, was to allow for better maintenance schedules for the trucks. So far, the sanitation has not needed more drivers to handle more pickups during a shift, but an expansion of the organics collection could force a change.
"When we do implement 5,500 organics collection bins, we will need more staff to do it, but we won’t be asking for any more money and can do it within our budget," Broome said.