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Cost of waste collection in Castlegar spikes

It’s going to cost Castlegar a lot more for garbage and recycling pick-up in the short-term, and probably the long-term too.

This week city council approved moving to a month-to-month contract with its provider once the current contract expires at the end of March.

That’s until the city rolls out a curbside composting program in late summer or early fall, which will involve re-tendering a long-term contract.

However, for now city staff explained the monthly cost will increase from nearly $16,000 per month to almost $28,000.

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“This is just to account for the fact the two per cent annual increase for inflation allowed for in the agreement did not keep pace with the actual rate of inflation over the seven-year agreement,” municipal services manager Chris Hallam explained.

It also accounts for the fact the contractor, Waste Management, added a second truck to their operations to recycling pickup.

“Volumes increased over the years as people got better at recycling,” Hallam said.

Until now the company has been absorbing those costs, but Hallam said in negotiating the extension, Waste Management sought prices more in line with actual costs.

Staff reviewed the increases, compared them to similar-sized communities, and found they fall in line with industry standards, Hallam said.

Chief financial officer Ola Oladele expected it would work out to another $14 per household if the extension lasts four months. Although curbside composting was originally supposed to be in place last October, it has been pushed back twice.

The regional composting facility is behind schedule and is expected to be completed this month. City staff say they are now targeting Aug. 1 for implementation of curbside composting, but it could be a bit later.

Oladele said the increased cost of waste pick-up is not in the city’s budget but will be borne once new rates are established in a few months.

Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff wondered about paying for the increase through reserves, but Oladele said the city doesn’t have a dedicated reserve for waste, as cost recovery is supposed to come through user fees.

Councillor Brian Bogle said while he felt “sticker shock” at the new price, he believes Waste Management has done a good job for the city.

Although a new contract is expected to be tendered soon, Hallam told council not to expect much of a cost reduction.

“I do think when we get the pricing for the new collection services they’re probably going to be more in line with what we’re seeing through this extension,” he said.

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that curbside composting was originally supposed to begin in April 2022.)

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