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Edmonton might delay rolling out its revamped waste management system because of COVID-19 crisis

City Hall in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. April 16, 2015.
City Hall in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. April 16, 2015. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

The city is considering abandoning the planned summer launch of its citywide cart rollout as Edmonton moves to a new waste collection system.

After a pilot project last year, one that took place over a 10-month period, the intent was to roll the new system out in the summer of 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the city to rethink its plans.

“We’re assessing that, like many other services we’re providing, but we haven’t landed on a specific recommendation yet,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin told Global News.

City councillors have not been briefed on the updated plans. One councillor anticipates hearing something at the April 15 council meeting.

Among the issues the city has to sort out, with so many working from home to self-isolate because of the pandemic, would the launch of a new system get a true test of the expected waste to be generated from homeowners?

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Coun. Andrew Knack said that would be true for all aspects of the new waste streams that will be created, with compostable kitchen waste, recyclables and regular garbage. Yard waste will have to be factored in later this spring.

“You could probably make an argument both ways,” Knack said. “In one way, you could say this is the maximum you’d ever expect, so maybe it’s good to see if you can do it now and still proceed with it. At the same time, because it’s out of the ordinary, it would be more total volume than we’d normally see this May, [and it may] not be the right time to try to roll that out.

“I could see why you might make either decision based off the current circumstances now.”

Knack also figures everyone is distracted right now, so any messaging from the city on the new way of doing things would be lost.

“We usually try to have a strong education component, so one of the questions I’d be thinking about if you’re going to be doing that, is do we have the ability to properly communicate how this is going to work while ensuring people are able to be attentive to that?” he asked.

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“I think there’s a fair case to say that a lot of people’s time and attention is focused on a lot of other areas, whether it’s their financials, whether it’s the information coming from all orders of government. Do they have the time to dedicate to understand the new approach?”

READ MORE: New Edmonton garbage plan includes single-use plastic ban

City council finalized the move to the new system last August, and it included a single-use plastics ban. The overall goal was to have the new system phased in over this year and next so there would be a four-category pickup by the end of 2022.

Eight-thousand homes have been piloting the system, using green carts for organics which will be picked up every week in the summer, and every other week in the winter.

Watch below: (From 2019) A new report is calling for the City of Edmonton to make significant changes to how it handles waste. Fletcher Kent reports.

Report calls for major changes to how Edmonton deals with waste
Report calls for major changes to how Edmonton deals with waste