Time to get with garbage pickup in Maple Ridge

‘Municipal system more efficient, makes more sense'; Maple Ridge reluctant to take on the task of garbage pickup.

Metro Vancouver wants its member municipalities to pick up green waste and kitchen scraps by 2015 as part of its goal to divert 70 per cent of waste from the garbage dump system.

It’s time to move into modern times with the rest of Metro Vancouver and have a single collection system for garbage and green waste in Maple Ridge, says resident Todd Oliver.

“It’s an essential service, for crying out loud.”

“To me, it just makes so much sense. Why hasn’t this happened years ago?”

Oliver, who lives on Dewdney Trunk Road, just east of downtown, says it’s time Maple Ridge moved away from the current system, in which four separate private companies (AJM Disposal, Litterbug, Progressive Waste or Waste Management) roam district streets picking up garbage from whoever signs up with them.

That creates unnecessary air and noise pollution, he said, while people who can’t afford monthly pickup toss their garbage in ditches, parks and school grounds.

District staff claim there’s no public interest in a single garbage contractor, Oliver added, but he wants the public to be able to decide in a proper referendum with all the facts available.

“At least give the taxpayers all the information.”

And if other Maple Ridge residents feel the same way, he wants them to write letters or send e-mails to Mayor Ernie Daykin.

Oliver made a pitch to council Tuesday and said it would cost Maple Ridge residents $208 a year for garbage and green waste pickup.

“There’s more press about why we shouldn’t have garbage collection … than giving taxpayers the opportunity to see what the benefits are.”

Metro Vancouver is requiring all its member municipalities to pick up green waste and kitchen scraps by 2015 as part of its goal to divert 70 per cent of waste from the garbage dump system.

Oliver’s proposal excludes collection of recyclables, which is already being done well by the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.

Under the current system, Maple Ridge residents pay between $144 and $174 yearly for private garbage pickup of one can a week.

Taxpayers also have to cough up a $68-a-year recycling fee, bringing the top total annual charge for one-can-a-week garbage collection and recycling to $242.

However, a staff report from July estimates that, under a municipally operated system, the combined yearly costs would climb to between $275 to $350.

That report also points out the entire collection system could change as a new requirement to recycle paper and packaging takes effect in 2014.

About a third of Maple Ridge residents don’t have any garbage pickup and truck their trash down to the transfer station next to the recycling depot and have to pay $10 every time they do so.

Oliver maintains a single collection system would be more efficient, cheaper and could even reduce the amount of garbage going into the waste system.

He cites Pitt Meadows’ experience from summer, when the city saw a 25-per-cent reduction in garbage after green waste collection was implemented in the spring.

He says municipal websites for Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam promote recycling, while Maple Ridge only directs people to the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society portal.

“What is it with Maple Ridge, always wanting to say, ‘stand pat,’ ” Oliver said.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to be paying for garbage pick up.”

“People are moving here expecting these types of services. We’re not in Alaska, we’re in Maple Ridge.”

He said a friend recently moved from Vancouver to Maple Ridge, put out his garbage can and waited three weeks, but nothing happened. He learned later he had to call one of the companies to become a customer.

“To me, it just makes so much sense,” Oliver said of municipal collection. “Why hasn’t this happened years ago?”

He may be fighting a decision that’s already been made.

Last July, council rejected even looking at the issue, unanimously defeating a motion to hire a consultant who would look at garbage and recycling collection.

Coun. Bob Masse campaigned on municipal garbage pickup in the last election and says the district should find a way to take an accurate poll of public opinion, providing all the numbers and cost comparisons are available.

“I would like us to see the question go to the community – do you want municipal garbage pickup?

“I think most people want garbage pickup, but I’m absolutely willing to be proven wrong.”

While he favours municipal collection, he doesn’t want it if it means higher costs for taxpayers. On average, it would have to work more advantageously cost-wise for residents.

He pointed out that in an open-ended question asked in the annual citizen surveys, 41 per cent of respondents said they wanted municipal garbage pickup.

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