There will be no increase in the fees Nelson charges its residents for garbage and recycling pickup in 2019.
Council decided at its Monday meeting that the fee will be $40 per single-family household, unchanged in 12 years, and $1.50 per garbage tag, unchanged over the past eight years.
But no fee changes doesn’t mean there are no difficult issues.
Blue bag phaseout, new truck
The city’s new five-year contract with Recycle BC, signed in late 2018, provides for the phasing out of blue bags come July 2020.
Nelson also needs to replace its aging garbage truck.
The current truck picks up both garbage and recycling in one trip, a feature that prompted Colin McClure, the city’s chief financial officer, to call Nelson’s one of the most efficient systems around.
But the prospect of using bins, or some other system instead of bags, will affect what kind of truck the city buys. And will the city sign on to the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s plans to begin curbside compost pickup this year? If it does, what would this mean for the type of truck the city buys?
Council also voted to allocate $20,000 from the city’s recycling reserve fund to conduct public education and perhaps do a pilot project in household composting.
Staff recommended that council should decide that the city would not participate in the RDCK’s planned curbside composting program. This was scrapped for the time being after objections from councillor Brittny Anderson.
Anderson said the RDCK is conducting a workshop in February on curbside organics pickup, and said council should attend it before deciding not to participate.
She said the RDCK has been working on a composting plan for some time now.
“They have a siting location [at the old landfill site near Salmo]. I think there is a huge environmental and economic benefit here.”
Council decided to wait until after the workshop before deciding whether to join the RDCK program.
The cost of a new garbage truck
Councillor Janice Morrison wanted to know how the new truck will be paid for, considering that council’s decision that rates will not rise.
McClure explained that the city has been putting money aside for the truck for in a reserve for this purpose.
“But we need to make a decision in the next six months,” he said, “It will take six months to a year to get the truck. It is not until July of 2020 that we have to actually have it here and working. So we have a bit of time. That is one reason why we decided that we would not make a change in rates right now.”
The new garbage truck will have to be equipped to pick up recycling, garbage, and possibly organic material for composting.
Councillor Rik Logtenberg asked McClure for design specifics for the truck and said perhaps there is a local solution.
“This is a perfect opportunity for somebody to step up and invent something,” Logtenberg said. “We have engineers in this town, and we could put the call out. An entrepreneur’s ears would perk up at this.”
McClure said there are other municipalities in a similar situation and that there is probably an appropriate truck already existing somewhere.
He said there are various types of trucks with mechanical arms that pick up containers, but Nelson’s narrow and steep laneways present a challenge.
Mayor John Dooley said the city might have to buy a truck before a decision is made on composting.
“We have not decided what type, if any, composting program we are going to use,” Dooley said.
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