Waste haulers pitch to Maple Ridge council

Maple Ridge council is currently studying the issue of city-wide garbage collection.

Resident says too much trash in Maple Ridge.

Resident says too much trash in Maple Ridge.

Two garbage hauling companies made their pitch Tuesday to Maple Ridge council to keep the system private.

AJM Disposal Services and Progressive Waste Solutions warned of rising costs and praised the current system in which four companies pick up trash from Maple Ridge homes.

Maple Ridge council is currently studying the issue of city-wide garbage collection.

“Multiple waste-service providers mean residents have multiple choices in services and pricing,” said Matt Torgerson, with AJM Disposal. “And it puts homeowners in control of their own waste and recycling budgets,” at no cost to the public treasury or tax increases.

Torgerson said the company’s customers, employees and stakeholders are worried about property tax increases, loss of local jobs and disruption of residential growth if the city adopts a single, city-wide collection system.

“These and other issues need to be addressed and we anticipate the city will be consulting with its residents.”

Torgerson said the current system also keeps Maple Ridge a leader in environmental practices because of the emphasis on recycling.

The company is fixing one issue, however, he added.

“We do understand the concerns of the residents regarding multiple vehicles on the streets.”

AJM has already adjusted its schedule so its trucks are on the street the same time as the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society collection trucks. He’d welcome a bylaw to require collection services to harmonize their pickup days. That could help reduce food waste on the street attracting garbage.

Grant Hankins, district manager for Progressive Waste Systems, said the current system encourages people to recycle because they have to pay directly for garbage collection. The more waste that’s recycled, the less garbage that has to be hauled away.

With people having a user-pay system, in which they pay directly for garbage collection, they’re more aware of the cost of transporting waste and more encouraged to recycle, he added.

He claimed this has resulted in Maple Ridge having one of the most cost-effective waste collection systems and having one of the highest recyclables diversion rates.

It also keeps a “unique and much valued” recycling program in place that creates jobs for those with mental challenges at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot, Hankins said.

Progressive delivered a single page sheet to residences this week titled, “You can’t afford publicly funded waste collection.”

The flyer said a new publicly funded waste collection service would produce the “largest, single property tax increase in the history of Maple Ridge, estimated to be nine per cent.”

However, according to a city report, the price that residents now pay for private garbage collection is similar to what they would pay under a municipal system.

The sheet also said a single garbage collection system would also discourage residential and commercial development and cost $70,000 if council decided to hold a referendum on the issue.

Coun. Bob Masse didn’t like the pamphlet.

“Just a fabrication of misinformation,” he said later.

“It’s just a nasty piece of fearmongering and speculation.”

During council, Masse asked Hankins if his company would release customers from two-year contracts if a municipal system was brought in.

Hankins said his company would work with its customers to integrate them into any new system. The company recently spent money to upgrade its vehicle to collect green waste, investing about $600,000.

“Part of the two-year commitment is we need to get a return on those assets,” he said.

“It’s something just to clarify,” Mayor Nicole Read said of the contract periods.

It’s an issue that people are concerned about, she added.

“We’d work with the community to transition into a new system,” Hankins said.

Coun. Gordy Robson noted that moving to city-wide collection could take a year or two, giving people time to end their contracts.

Masse noted a bill from one Progressive Waste customer who was paying a monthly charge of $16.45 to have one garbage can and $22.86 to have one green waste can picked up. That works out to $471 yearly.

Masse expected that by fall the city could be ready to issue a request for proposals so companies could bid on providing garbage collection services.

That would be followed by some sort of public consultation, possibly by referendum or plebiscite, to see if people wanted the service.

“If the community says ‘no thanks,’ that’s the way I will go.”

He said asking companies to bid for a contract or give estimates won’t legally obligate the city.

The previous council claimed that to be the case and didn’t invite bids for garbage collection.

According to a recent staff report, Maple Ridge residents on average pay $24 a month or $288 a year for their weekly private collection contracts.

Operating a municipally administered system, in which the city contracts with one company to pick up garbage and green waste city wide is estimated to cost residents between $275 and $300 a year.

Moving to an in-house system, for which city employees collect garbage is expected to cost up to $350 per residence.

All of the above would be extra costs for those residents who currently have no garbage pickup because they take their trash to the Metro Vancouver garbage transfer station, although the minimum charge there is now $15 per load.

Two of the four private haulers in Maple Ridge now offer green waste collection following the ban on organics from the waste stream that came into effect in January.