Qualicum Beach residents will continue to have the luxury of garbage pickup through the town’s services.
A vote to complete negotiations with the Regional District of Nanaimo to opt in to the RDN’s bylaw to provide garbage collection for single-family residential properties at the Town of Qualicum Beach’s committee of the whole meeting Thursday failed, with only Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer voting in favour.
The committee of the whole decisio provides recommendation to town council, but only a vote of council in a regular meeting can establish policy.
The motion previously came to council at the Nov. 15 committee of the whole meeting, after finance director John Marsh brought forward a report on the solid waste management services garbage collection process. The report included research that showed residents of Qualicum Beach were paying more than other residents in the region, including those in the City of Parksville.
However, some residents at the time came forward to say they would be willing to continue to pay more for the service, with one resident acknowledging the town’s service as a “luxury” she would be willing to pay for in taxes.
At the Dec. 14 meeting, Coun. Barry Avis said he didn’t support the motion because of the comments at the previous committee meeting. Avis said in a survey of town services, about eight per cent of respondents said they were in favour of contracting out the garbage collection, while about “85 per cent were completely happy with the current service.”
Coun. Anne Skipsey said she’d heard from residents they weren’t happy with the RDN’s services, adding she would also guess that “the union which represents all of our employees — our union employees — do not appear to be in favour.”
Laurence Amy, CUPE Local 401 vice-president, said employees were “very nervous” about losing jobs.
“As it sits right now, the seasonal workers are performing the garbage pickup and they are used on a 6-to-8 month basis depending on the need,” said Amy, adding the employees fear they might not be hired back.
With the potential outsourcing of garbage collection, town staff had said the employees working in garbage collection would be deployed to other departments such as public works or parks. Marsh previously said the town needs to hire additional staff for public works and parks, and by redeploying employees from garbage pickup to the other two department could save the town money.
Amy said at no point did the town approach the union about garbage rates.
“That would be something we would definitely entertain if you needed to keep your costs down,” Amy said.
At the end of the meeting, Westbroek suggested taking up Amy on his “offer” in reducing costs.
Amy said he didn’t offer the town a way to save money, adding he would need to get real numbers on costs and wages from the town.
Town council did vote on continuing to provide commercial garbage pickup and establishing a user fee system with the collection. The two motions passed unanimously.