Hamilton councillor ‘disappointed,’ bi-weekly trash pickup plan rejected

Residents not in compliance with new garbage rules will first get an "oops" sticker on their container, followed by a letter and then an educational visit from waste collection staff. Don Mitchell / Global News

Hamilton Coun. John-Paul Danko says he’s disappointed after the city rejected the idea of bi-weekly garbage pickup once again.

A motion brought forward by Danko just a week ago is off the table as councillors voted 5-to-4 against the plan during the public works committee meeting on Monday.

“I’m disappointed that the majority of councillors on the public works committee decided to turn their backs on a potential of $21 million in savings,” Danko told Global News.

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The Ward 8 councillor asked for the option to be studied before the awarding of the city’s next waste collection which is expected to run from 2021 until 2028.

Danko argued that the move would reduce the sting of a proposed 5.5 per cent property tax hike and potentially save the city $3 million by encouraging more recycling and green-binning, theoretically diverting food waste away from landfills.

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Executive Director of Environment, Dr. Lynda Lukasik backed-up the theory at committee saying data from other municipalities shows better use of organic and recycling bins with bi-weekly pick-up.

“Bi-weekly collection encourages more waste diversion, and this is because weekly collection of recyclables and organic waste continues to occur so people make better use of these options,” said Lukasik.

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The motion’s idea was to put both possibilities of weekly and bi-weekly collection up for tender, getting costs back for each contract, and deciding on the most attractive offer.

The proposal called for the collection of recyclables, compostables as well as leaf and yard waste to continue to be picked up on a weekly basis.

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“For the vast majority of households in Hamilton, this would have no impact on them whatsoever. So, to me, that seemed pretty obvious potential savings,” said Danko.

However, Coun. Terry Whitehead didn’t buy that argument saying many residents in his ward don’t have the space to store “stinky” garbage.

Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins says the issue for him is cross-contamination between recycling and garbage which he believes needs to be addressed before any potential reduction in garbage collection.

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Several Ontario municipalities, including Burlington, Toronto, Peel and Waterloo currently have collection of landfill waste every other week while Niagara region just recently approved a bi-weekly cycle which will take effect in October 2020.

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“So we’re one of the last municipalities left that still collect the landfill waste stream every week.”

“And by the end of this contract, I’m sure we’re gonna be the only municipality left that still does that,” Danko said.

Monday’s vote still has to be ratified when city council meets on Nov. 27.

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