Elected officials in Parksville Qualicum Beach do not want to experience another interruption of waste collection services residents endured for more than two weeks due to adverse weather conditions.
The issue was discussed at the Regional District of Nanaimo board meeting on Jan. 11 and again at the Town of Qualicum Beach council meeting on Jan. 12.
Parksville mayor Ed Mayne was critical about how disorganized the service was, particularly in keeping many of the residents constantly informed. He said he received many complaints from residents and wants the RDN to review the situation.
“I understand the weather was not conducive for this but on the other side of it, the amount of snow that we received during that period of time compared to Saskatchewan or Alberta or Manitoba or Ontario, that’s a weekend snow for them,” said Mayne. “And yet we have gotten ourselves into something that’s three weeks later and we’re still fighting to get to the top of the pile. There’s got to be something we can do to make it more efficient.”
Mayne acknowledged the efforts made by the RDN waste management staff but said collection should have been more timely.
“I just can’t see that there’s a reasonable excuse to have gotten this far down into the rabbit hole on this,” said Mayne.
Qualicum Beach Coun. Anne Skipsey said she received a number of calls from frustrated residents.
“I know the circumstances were beyond anyone’s control and I know they were made worse by the holiday season, and extra garbage and extra recycling and everything,” said Skipsey, who asked what can be done to make it a “better experience next time?”
“There’s a lot of seniors and people with disabilities who really struggled with those bins and going in and out and in and out,” said Skipsey.
Skipsey also received comments from some residents who feel they shouldn’t have to pay for the garbage collection because they weren’t provided the service.
The RDN did send out notifications but were impeded by the heavy snowfall and slippery road conditions that made it difficult and dangerous for garbage trucks to travel. Tipping fees were waived at the Church Road Transfer Station and Nanaimo landfills.
“From an operational point of view, there’s no question that this has been a frustration of course for people who are accumulating their refuse in their homes and also for us as operators,” said Douglas Holmes, RDN CAO. “We’re in a situation where in terms of trying to time the routes and get the service in place where we know the routes are clear etc., that’s been a real struggle.”
Holmes said operators had some close calls with a garbage truck doing a ‘360’ on black ice and also going down on roads they assumed were cleared of snow. They had to demobilize the services.
“That doesn’t help the people that we serve when they’re stockpiling their refuse as has been articulated, that’s for sure,” said Holmes. “In terms of communications, we’re upping our communications just a bit more to get more real time information in front of the people we serve. We do hear the complaints loud and clear.”