Castlegar has recently joined a growing number of communities across the province that have switched to bi-weekly garbage collection. Those cities include Nelson, Richmond, Mission, Quesnel, New Westminster, Squamish, Nanaimo, White Rock, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Langley.
There have been some growing pains as residents adjust to the changes — bi-weekly collection, working on thinking twice about what goes in the garbage and recycling more and remembering to keep their carts locked.
Reducing Castlegar’s waste was one of the main objectives in switching to the new program as identified in the city’s Official Community Plan. “The city was looking to increase waste diversion by increasing both recycling and composting, which will also lead to reduced tipping costs,” explained director of transportation and civic works Chris Barlow.
Council has set a goal of increasing recycling from the previous level of 45 per cent participation to 75 per cent within three years. It appears progress is being made as recycling numbers for May 2016 have increased 11 per cent over May 2015. “We need to take additional steps as a community and as a municipality to increase waste diversion,” added Barlow.
A comparison of municipalities in the region shows that as far as garbage collection fees are concerned, Castlegar residents are paying less than our neighbours as illustrated in the chart. The average of two bags per week was obtained by consulting three municipalities and industry standards.
|ANNUAL FEE||ADDITIONAL FEES||
*Based on 2 bags per week
|Nelson||bi-weekly||bi-weekly||no||no||$40||$1.50 per bag||$196|
|Trail||weekly||bi-weekly||twice annually||2 recycling||$126||no||$126|
$.75 per small bag
$1.50 per large bag
(food waste included)
|1 cart||$228||$50 for recycling collection||$278|
|Rural residents: Land fill dumping at $2.50 per container for the first two containers estimate at year, by weight if more. Doug’s Disposal Service offers weekly pick up of one 80L can at $25 per month.|
The 2016 residential fee of $110 is less than than the 2015 fee of $122. Castlegar finance director Andre Buss explained that the rate for this transition year was set using an estimate based on increased recycling. “We hope we will be paying even less next year,” said Buss. “It should go down next year as we reap the synergies of this new program.”
One of the largest expenses for the city in its waste collection program are tipping fees — the charges for what goes into the landfill. These fees have increased over the years from $65 per tonne in 2007 to $85 per tonne today.
Another goal of the new program is a reduction in human-wildlife conflict caused by attractants. Castlegar WildSafeBC community coordinator Jenny Wallace reports that so far this year has been an average bear year but with slightly fewer conflicts reported in May compared to May, 2015. “Overall, I’m very optimistic about this progressive step towards keeping garbage inaccessible to bears in Castlegar,” said Wallace of the new garbage program.
“Perhaps a better gauge of the effectiveness of the new bear resistant carts however, is the obvious reduction in accessible garbage available in the community,” added Wallace. “Compared to previous years, I have received far fewer calls from residents reporting garbage strewn about by bears in yards, green spaces and wildlife corridors.”
Wallace explained the new bear-resistant carts should discourage all but the most food conditioned bears. “Most wild bears won’t risk the time and energy needed to compromise these locks,” she said. As the program continues, there will be fewer of the food conditioned bears around and we should continue to see a decrease in bear related incidents.