ACW to review waste collection contract
By Denny Scott
Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) Council will be considering the future of waste collection in the municipality despite warnings that changing its current contract could result in significant price increases.
Deputy-Mayor Roger Watt requested council consider the issue at a previous council meeting, and Public Works Superintendent Thomas McCarthy put forward a report during council’s Sept. 20 meeting outlining waste collection costs.The purpose was to have council consider expanding the weekly pick-up season along the lakeshore and look at expansion of that service to the rest of the municipality.
McCarthy explained that, in April of 2020, the township entered a five-year agreement with Waste Management of Canada Corporation for curbside collection.
“The work to be done by the contractor under the agreement comprises the collection of household bagged waste within the township limits, and the dumping of the same at the township landfill site,” McCarthy reported. “The work also includes the collection of curbside/roadside blue boxes and recyclable processing at a Materials Recycling Facility.”
McCarthy went on to say that clear bag recycling is still acceptable at lakeshore roads that aren’t accessible by recycling collection trucks.
The contract cost the municipality $217,923.72 plus HST for 2022, and includes bi-weekly collection for most of the municipality with weekly garbage and recycling pickup in Area 3 (everything west of Highway 21 in the municipality) from June to the end of September.
McCarthy said, in his report, that changing the contract to weekly collection across the municipality, as some council members had suggested, with only a few years left in it could result in significant expenses for additional machinery and employee hours. Further, he said that council should expect that any negotiation would likely see a price increase due to the cost of fuel, equipment and labour.
“There is no option in the existing contract for the addition of days or areas of the [weekly pickup] service for additional months,” he said. “Additionally, the contractor currently allows for the use of plastic bags for recyclables which may be removed if the contract is renegotiated.”
Taking McCarthy’s concerns into account, council decided to have other pricing options brought back near budget time for council to consider municipality-wide weekly garbage pickup.
Deputy-Mayor Roger Watt also asked that Bluewater Recycling Association (BRA) be considered, especially if council decided to not change waste collection until the current contract ends in 2025.
Chief Administrative Officer Mark Becker said he could bring that back but cautioned that BRA had proven to be very expensive in the past.
“We looked at BRA in 2003 and it was over $200,000 at that time,” he said, indicating that, two years later, it was even higher. “We’re at $217,000 right now for the whole municipality.”
Several council members said they would like to see plastic recycling bag options removed regardless of the contract negotiations, saying they weren’t environmentally friendly. Watt agreed with the sentiment, but said that seasonal property owners often put their recycling out days ahead of collection, so open containers may be detrimental there.
Becker reminded council that no one needs to use plastic bags for their recycling. Recyclables could be put at the curb or roadside in a traditional plastic blue box or cardboard box.
Council agreed to have options brought back for review regarding the future of waste collection in the municipality.