Qualicum Beach town council has decided to defer deliberations on whether or not to outsource garbage collection services to a future meeting.
In a report on solid waste management services garbage collection process during its Nov. 15 committee of the whole meeting, Vancouver Island University MBA intern Jennifer Enahoro shared research that showed residents of Qualicum Beach were paying more than other residents in the region, including in the City of Parksville.
John Marsh, town finance director, said that was a statistic that stuck out to him when he was reading and reviewing the report.
When Marsh broke down the numbers to single out garbage collection, he said, he found that in a two-week period a garbage truck goes by Qualicum Beach homes three times, while a private-sector company goes by twice and collects two strains of solid waste each time.
Marsh said that, in Qualicum Beach, that equals 26 more trips to each home, which in turn costs additional money. He said the garbage component costs residents in other parts of the Parksville Qualicum Beach region about $40 while Qualicum Beach residents are paying 50 per cent more at about $60.
Staff recommendations to council were to provide commercial garbage collection services, establish a commercial garbage user fee system to cover costs and to negotiate with the Regional District of Nanaimo to contract out single-family residential garbage collection services.
The report states outsourcing the residential garbage collection could decrease expenditures on wages, equipment and fuel.
Marsh said those workers could potentially be moved to other departments such as public works or parks. He said there is a shortage of outdoor workers within town staff, adding those employees currently working with garbage collection could be moved elsewhere.
Coun. Neil Horner asked if there would be savings on wages if those employees are only moved to another position.
Marsh said if those garbage workers aren’t moved, it would mean the town would need to hire additional staff for the outside crew.
One resident, Wendy Maurer, got up to speak at the meeting. She said she would be willing to continue to pay the additional money and have the town continue garbage collection.
“For me as a resident, I believe I would rather spend the money and have the trucks necessary for the Town of Qualicum Beach to continue with residential pickup,” said Maurer, adding she’s willing to pay for the “luxury” in her taxes.