Coun. Corisa Bell wants Maple Ridge to investigate the possibility of municipal waste collection, but four veteran council members shot down her motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Bell noted that when council last discussed this topic, it was voted down to avoid the cost of an $85,000 study, and because council was cautioned that requesting expressions of interest could lead to contractual obligations.
Bell said council has since learned that businesses will provide information at no cost to the district, with no obligation. She said she intuitively believes that one operator picking up garbage at every home in the district could do the task more efficiently, and for a better price for homeowners, than multiple operators with customers spread across the municipality.
She noted that when residents are questioned about what services the district should add, 41 per cent list garbage collection.
“I can’t count the amount of emails I’ve received on this topic,” she said. “It’s definitely in the hundreds.”
Bell suggested that if the issue is deemed confidential, it could be put to referendum in the next election.
Coun. Bob Masse spoke in favour of her resolution, and said council could explore the possibilities in a manner that does not commit the municipality to a new system. He also noted that kitchen and yard waste are part of the collection service in Pitt Meadows, and could be added here.
Coun. Mike Morden also supported it, but wanted to go further, and obtain the cost for collection of all solid waste.
Coun. Cheryl Ashlie noted that the province is putting more responsibility on companies that produce packaging, and municipalities are just now dealing with the organization Multi-Material BC (MMBC), which is a new player in recycling, with the potential to handle recycling for virtually every municipality in the province. Council’s first offer from MMBC was not well received.
“The whole arena is in a state of flux,” said Ashlie, adding the municipality would be wise to not take any new initiatives at this time, but “sit on the sidelines and watch.”
She cited a staff estimate that providing garbage collection to every home in Maple Ridge would hike taxes 10 per cent.
Coun. Al Hogarth said there was “extensive exploration” of this topic about a year ago, and he too would rather see what proposals MMBC comes up with, since its initial offer has generally not been well received by municipalities.
“It would be more appropriate to wait and see the results of the whole process,” said Hogarth.
He has heard feedback from members of the public who prefer to keep their garbage collection private, because it is affordable.
“I think we have a pretty good system right now,” said Hogarth.
Mayor Ernie Daykin was cautious about asking for quotes, saying if council goes on a “fishing expedition” for more affordable garbage collection, “we could be on the hook for a contract.”
Masse said there would be no harm in finding out whether there are cost savings to be had.
“Get the information, put it in front of the public, and let them say whether they want it.”
Speaking to the district’s mandate to reduce greenhouse gasses, he noted that every diesel garbage truck taken off the road is the equivalent of 450 cars.
Masse said he would be willing to wait, to see what offers come from MMBC.
On the contrary, Bell said council should get the information beforehand, so it can respond to an MMBC deal with knowledge of alternatives.
Masse, Morden and Bell voted to support the initiative, but their motion was defeated on opposing votes by Ashlie, Hogarth, Dueck and Daykin.