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RFD- 3321 Business Items   Item #   10. a.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 07/16/2018  
Title:    Waste Management Program Service Level Changes - Levasseur
Department: Planning & Infrastructure  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life Related Goal: Citizens consistently express high levels of satisfaction with municipal services.

Information
Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to provide Council with three waste service level changes to improve the program's efficiency. All proposed service level changes are targeted for implementation in Spring 2019, which will align with the tendering of the new waste collection contract. Administration is seeking Council’s direction to conduct public engagement for the proposed waste management service level changes presented at the June 18, 2018 Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Proposed Motion
That administration be directed to implement a public engagement initiative to explore the following proposed changes to the City's waste management program:

moving to bi-weekly garbage collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection;
discontinuing annual Christmas tree collection;
maintaining the annual free-cycle event while discontinuing the annual large item curbside collection event; and

that a report be brought back to Council.
Background/Analysis
Over the past decade the City of Spruce Grove’s diversion rates have remained between 35% and 40%.  In 2016 the City contracted S-Cubed Environmental to conduct a curbside waste audit and provide recommendations on how to increase waste diversion. One of the top recommendations from the report is the proposed change from weekly to bi-weekly garbage collection. The City has also conducted several outreach survey events over the past two years where the main reason (46% of residents) for not diverting waste to the organics cart has been convenience. Residents stating that it is more convenient to put their food scraps in the garbage compared to properly diverting to the green organics cart. Organics currently makes up 56% of the waste stream.

Addressing this stagnation in diversion has become a priority and City Administration is proposing three service level changes to the waste program to address these concerns for Spring 2019.

The three service level changes are:
  1. Curbside collection service to bi-weekly garbage collection, weekly summer organics collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection. 
  2. Discontinuation of Christmas tree collection program
  3. Maintain the free-cycle event and discontinue the large-item pickup collection program 
Administration has attached a report that provides a detailed analysis of each of the four proposed service level changes, including impacts, consultation and communication considerations.
 

The following topics discussed during the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 18, 2018 have been addressed as laid out below:

1. Curbside collection service to bi-weekly garbage collection, weekly summer organics collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection:
Council identified concern over the feedback from residents on this proposed change. The waste group will work closely with Corporate Communications to prepare an extensive public engagement and communication strategy with a focus on education to assist residents in adjusting to these changes. The attached FAQ has also been prepared to help answer any of the common concerns and questions related to these changes.
 
Council expressed interest in offering a larger cart or a second cart option for residents who produce a large amount of waste. Upon further consideration, the waste group feels that the City should only allow residents to have one 240L black garbage cart for the following reasons:
  • A larger cart or more than one cart does not encourage diversion from landfill
  • Managing three cart sizes will increase both inventory and administrative costs for the utility
  • Solid Waste services are based on a single cart for each “Utility Service Account” and collection and disposal costs are tendered and calculated on this assumption.  Each Utility Service Account at $28.50/month = 1 x 240 L Black waste cart + 1 x 240 L Organic waste cart + unlimited blue bags at current service cycles
  • There can be limited off-street storage options for additional carts for many properties
  • Carts identification numbers are not currently associated with a particular address or Utility Service Account, so could be easily stolen from one resident to be used by another
  • With no electronic tags on waste carts, there is no feasible means to track who has two carts and to properly bill those residents
  • Some regional municipalities have offered the second cart options at an administration fee of $50.00 and a monthly fee of $10 - $12
Council also expressed interest in offering an alternative to blue bags.   A study completed by the City of Salmon Arm shows that a blue bag or cart based system have the highest capture rates, lowest contamination and litter rates compared to blue boxes. The blue bags have the benefit of allowing operators to easily spot contamination and reject a bag at the curb compared to a box or cart system.  The study also showed that blue bags have less of an environmental impact compared to blue carts. It will take 14 years of using two bags a week to equal the amount of plastic required for one cart.  The study also showed that trucks idle 14% longer with cart collection compared to bag collection.  The cost of operating a cart system is higher with Salmon Arm estimating that it would cost approximately $40+ more/household/year, not including cart purchase, maintenance or replacement.  It is estimated that a resident who uses two bags a week will spend approximately $30 a year on bags.

2. Discontinuation of Christmas tree collection program
Council appeared to fully support this proposed change and as a result no additional research has been conducted.

3. Maintain the free-cycle event and discontinue the large-item pickup collection program
Council identified that it was important to keep the Free-Cycle event as it allowed residents an alternative to landfill disposal for their large items. Council expressed great satisfaction with this aspect of the program.  Administration feels that continuing to offer Free-Cycle as a separate event from large item collection is appropriate.
 
Council requested more information on alternatives to large item collection and the cost of running the curbside program as is. Administration conducted some research within the region and the attached program approach and costs have been identified.
 
Administration feels that discontinuing the large item collection program for the following reasons is the appropriate approach moving forward:
  • The program does not encourage diversion
  • It duplicates services offered at the Eco-Centre
  • Items that are not accepted by the program are often left at the curb for extended periods of time.
  • Items frequently interfere with the ability of the automatic trucks to tip the waste and organics carts
  • Six separate trucks are required to collect waste put out during large item collection
  • Several other third party organizations that accept large items for reuse and resale
As a result of discontinuing large item collection, residents will be responsible for disposal of their large items left behind after the Free-Cycle event through the Eco-Centre or a private hauler.
 
Options/Alternatives
Administration feels that the options presented are the best options for the City. However, the following alternatives could potentially be implemented with additional effort hours and funding:
 
1. Curbside collection service to bi-weekly garbage collection, weekly summer organics collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection
The City can only offer a second waste cart if an effective cart tracking system is implemented to allow the City to accurately track which carts belong to which house.  This will ensure proper invoicing for service provided.  An effective  tracking system will require significant capital investment and manpower for implementation.  Operational changes will be required of the contracted service provider to install tracking devices for the system.  Many of these systems have reported several technical issues resulting in incorrect data.
 
2.  Maintain the free-cycle event and discontinue the large-item pickup collection program
The City can continue with large item collection at the curb, however, to ensure that the program costs are not misunderstood the service
would be under a separate contract. The costs would be equally invoiced to all account holder  regardless of participation and volumes of material generated by each residence. Participants will be subsidized by non-participants.  Utility invoicing would identify the charges as related to the program in the month in which the large item collection occurs, providing residents with a clear understanding of the costs associated with the service.  
Consultation/Engagement
The attached report was prepared in partnership between the Environment and Transit and Public Works Departments. External input was gathered from the Capital Region Waste Minimization Advisory Committee and the Inter-municipal Community Collaboration Waste Sub-Committee.
 
City Administration also spoke with several residents (32) at this year's Canada Day event at Jubilee Park. Residents were asked the following questions regarding the waste changes:
 
  1. How full is your garbage cart every week? 56% of residents stated their cart is half full or less. 
  1. If garbage was collected every other week, could your household manage? 69% of residents stated they could manage having their cart collected every two weeks.
City Administration will also work with Corporate Communications to conduct extensive public engagement before returning to Council for a decision on the three proposed changes.
Implementation/Communication
The proposed service level changes would be incorporated into the Request for Proposal for waste hauling service as well as the waste contract with the successful proponent.

Communication and engagement on these changes with residents will occur in consultation with the Corporate Communications team.  A detailed communications/engagement strategy and plan will be prepared to gather feedback from residents and to educate them on these changes.
Impacts
It is anticipated that these proposed changes will not only address the stagnation in diversion rates, but will stabilize program costs and reliability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lessen the City’s impact to the environment and align certain service levels with the region. 

Fiscal Impact
Financial Implications:
It is anticipated that a budget of $10,000 will be required to communicate the program changes, and this cost will be included in the 2019 status quo budget.

 
The changes may impact the overall program costs by reducing the number of times garbage is collected and increasing the number of times the organics is collected. With the variability in the waste stream more recently it is difficult to predict how external factors may influence the program costs. The cost of the program will be finalized through the tendering process.
Attachments
City of Spruce Grove's Waste Management Program Proposed Changes
FAQs for Bi-weekly Collection
Regional Comparison on Large Item Collection

City Council and Committee of the Whole agendas and minutes are posted on the City of Spruce Grove website for information purposes only. These agendas may be changed at the discretion of Council by the addition or deletion of items. Anyone reviewing the draft agenda should do so on the understanding that it is subject to change by Council.

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