Private garbage collection in Maple Ridge is likely here to stay after district councillors shot holes in a proposal to look at switching to a municipal service.
Maple Ridge is the only municipality in the Lower Mainland that doesn’t offer municipal garbage collection.
Couns. Judy Dueck, Cheryl Ashlie, Mike Morden, and Al Hogarth expressed opposition at Monday’s council workshop meeting to a request to spend $85,000 on consultant services to review the District of Maple Ridge’s solid waste options, including municipal curbside garbage collection.
Hogarth said a municipal garbage service would not be in the best interest of taxpayers.
“The one thing we hear from taxpayers is, ‘don’t increase my costs ‘ … so I can’t see us going to a municipal system,” he said. “I think the waste stream is being treated much better in Maple Ridge because there’s a cost factor involved, so people are more diligent with recycling and reducing waste.”
While Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Port Moody have municipal garbage collection, the remaining Lower Mainland municipalities contract out such services.
Residents in Maple Ridge, however, are on their own, and must hire a private garbage collection firm to haul their trash away.
Mayor Ernie Daykin stressed a switch to municipal garbage collection wouldn’t be free, and that costs would be added to property taxes.
Maple Ridge residents currently pay $68.16 annually for recycling services from the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, and anywhere from $72 annually for monthly private garbage pick up, to $144 for weekly pickup.
Similar municipal services offered in Richmond and Surrey cost taxpayers there $242 and $281 per year, respectively.
Maple Ridge’s private model allows for more flexibility and competition than the municipal model, and rewards residents who can reduce their amount of waste, said Dueck.
“What we are doing right now works,” she said. “People have choice, and we’re well served by the recycling society. Our success in our efforts to recycle and compost are the envy of many communities.”
Ashlie added that it was poor timing to be considering a switch to a municipal model given pending changes to Metro Vancouver’s solid waste diversion goals.
Metro Vancouver’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan calls for 70 per cent of trash to be diverted from landfills by 2015, with a full ban on organic waste to achieve that. Currently, no curbside pickup is offered for organic waste in Maple Ridge.
The Ministry of Environment is also planning a mandatory recycling program for packaging and printed paper.
“It doesn’t seem logical to get into the mix at this point,” said Ashlie. “I get that we haven’t taken an intense look [at municipal garbage collection]… but right now is not the right time to be doing this.”
Under the private model, the private collection firms would be the ones responsible for adhering to Metro Vancouver’s new waste rules, she said.
“What we might be structuring for may be very different five years down the road,” said Ashlie. “We’re well-positioned to sit back and watch how it unfolds.”
Morden noted the need for lawn waste pickup, but said a pure municipal service wasn’t the answer.
Couns. Robert Masse and Corisa Bell both said a municipal option was something residents have been asking for, and should be considered.
“This is something that was campaigned on,” said Bell. “Citizen surveys reflected this, they are asking for this.”
Bell suggested holding a referendum to allow residents to decide which garbage collection model they prefer, while Masse suggested a survey might be more cost-effective.
The motion to approve the $85,000 study was put off until Tuesday night’s Maple Ridge Council meeting.