Garbage collection: Council plans to approve changes for condos and apartments

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Edmonton’s multi-unit residences are about to have a three-way waste collection system like single-family homes.

The city’s Utilities Committee reviewed a report prepared by the administration and waste services that presented options for how garbage, organic waste and recycling could be recovered from condominiums, townhouses , affordable housing, apartments and other multi-unit residential environments.

The administration has recommended that councilors approve the transition to three-stream waste collection at communal sites without completely privatizing the program.

On Friday, the committee unanimously approved the recommendations, sending them to city council for final approval in April.

The report noted that if services were to be fully privatized, the city would have no control over service levels, including waste collection frequency or volume limits, rates charged, program requirements such as location of containers and how waste streams were disposed of. of.

The committee heard from several speakers, including Liam Peuramaki, representative of the Edmonton Civic Union Coalition for Local 30, who spoke in favor of the recommendation on behalf of the city’s waste management employees. .

“This strategy will help keep waste management utility costs affordable for all residents while allowing the city to work towards meeting its waste diversion goals,” he said. .

“The private model that has been proposed only serves to introduce more uncertainty, more risk, less accountability to residents and, frankly, will only lead to further delays for the city to meet its management goals. waste,” Peuramaki added.

Bethany Fredeen, head of Deveraux Apartment Communities, called the costs of waste management services “unreasonably high” for landlords and property managers, meaning charges are passed on to residents via rent or utility fees. condominium.

“The City of Edmonton’s business case suggests the risks of privatizing multi-family waste management services include price volatility, declining service quality, and failure to meet environmental goals Fredeen said. “I strongly disagree with each of these assumptions.

“Costs can be stabilized, but they are stabilized at extremely high rates. Of course, this allows predictability, but it does not change the fact that we are paying a lot more for a public system,” she said.

Fredeen added that the city’s quality of service can be substandard, citing examples of illegal dumps where someone places a mattress in front of a communal trash can, resulting in the trash not being picked up and the rubbish swarming. accumulate.

“In our community of Edmonton, we have experienced many instances where the City of Edmonton has refused to support at the slightest inconvenience,” Fredeen said. “Should we receive an on-site notification, we would be happy to move the items and allow pickup.

“But, when we speak with an inspector from the city of Edmonton, we are not only told that they will not come to our office to speak to us, but that they cannot call us because they no longer receive mobile phones.”

Papastew Ward Councilor Michael Janz asked if services were privatized, would the city have a mechanism to ensure cost savings to property management companies or landlords are passed on to tenants or unit owners in the form of lower fees or rent?

City officials noted that there would be no guarantee this would happen, whereas under the current municipal model rates are standardized and can be changed by council.

Denis Jubinville, director of the Waste Services branch, said privatization would cause the city to lose all control over service quality.

“Right now we’re actually providing the service, so we have full oversight,” he said, adding that if contractors working for the city don’t fulfill their obligations, contract clauses can be used to secure conformity.

Former waste services worker Myles Curry spoke out in favor of the city retaining control of communal waste services because it would ensure lasting reductions in the amount of waste Edmontonians send to landfills.

“The opportunity that Edmonton has is very unique to pursue a very aggressive multi-unit (waste) diversion program under this public model and to change it now would be to ignore all the failures that have happened across North America. “, did he declare.

If the city council approves the three-stream communal waste plan, preparatory work would begin to enable effective collection in late 2023 or early 2024.

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