Today’s Poll

City not ready to trash Waste Bylaw changes as it looks to compile list of amendments

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 15th, 2017

There won’t be any changes made yet to the city’s controversial Waste Management and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw as the department in charge of collecting waste and recycling is still assessing the fallout from the latest revisions.

The city’s director of Public Works and Utilities, Colin Innes, said he is giving the new bylaw amendments a chance to resonate and be absorbed within the community before coming back to city council with a possible new list of amendments, or scrapping the changes made in January.

He said there has been some initial confusion and concern over the bylaw since it was initiated last month and, as a result, there have been 296 contacts from people at Public Works over garbage and recycling collection, with most people seeking clarification over the changes, bag size and some upset over what has transpired.

“We’ve had a few people that are stand offish on the issue but they are pretty much in the minority,” he said.

Innes said 42 of the people who contacted the department with concerns were worried about the potential for animals to tear open bags. The new bylaw regulations require garbage bags to be removed from their storage containers by residents and placed appropriately for pick up.

“I certainly understand where people’s concerns come from because nobody wants garbage strewn around the community,” he said. “Fortunately, the actual occurrence of this at this time are low.”

“I think we are going to have more of a problem when we hit the hot summer months with people having open garbage bags out on the curb for any wildlife,” said Coun. Robin Cherbo.

In the last three weeks city crews have been at 13,875 locations — picking up both garbage and recycling — and out of that 0.2 per cent of those locations have had a bag that has been disrupted by either wildlife or dogs (21 incidents). In all cases the city cleaned up the mess, said Innes.

But there may be some need in some situations for someone to have something to protect their bag, like a container or a box.

“Our consideration of that potential (lifting injury to employees) … would be that we would be removing the bag from the can and not lifting both,” he said.

Innes said the initial trial phase for the bylaw changes was three weeks, but with a mid-February storm hampering collection, he said the trial would continue into mid-March before reporting to council with any new recommendations.

“The plan was at the end of the third week to move into full adoption of that unless there was something that had arisen in the meantime that would have caused us to suggest an amendment,” he said.

Some people are confused with recycling, Innes noted, but the city is working on getting more information out on it regarding how Multi-Material B.C. connects with what the city and the regional district are doing.

City council made amendments to its Waste Management and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw in January following an internal Occupational Health and Safety review, conducted to investigate the rash of injuries sustained by staff while collecting garbage. Since 2012 there have been 13 reported injuries for individuals involved in garbage collection duties.

The city instituted a slate of recommendations for its staff — including the need to be physically fit and stretching to start the work day — as well as lowering the curbside weight and placement of garbage bags the city will accept for removal.

The acceptable weight of bags has dropped from 50 pounds (23 kilograms) to 44 lbs. (20 kg.), and garbage bags must be removed from their storage containers by residents and placed appropriately for pick up.

Any bags that have become “saturated,” or have not been left “as close as possible to the edge of the traveled way serving the property,” will not be collected either. The new maximum weight and requirements apply also to recycling bags.

City staff will place a sticker on garbage that is not being collected due to the garbage not complying with the bylaw, and will make a notation of the address of where the garbage originates so that a list can be provided to the city secretary receptionist.

A public education process is still being undertaken regarding the requirements for appropriate garbage collection under the new bylaw — believed to be beneficial in order to safeguard city staff from injury while collecting garbage — including consequences of a failure to comply.

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