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Edmonton resolving issues with new waste collection program after thousands of homes missed

Click to play video: 'City of Edmonton misses thousands of bins in waste collection' City of Edmonton misses thousands of bins in waste collection
WATCH ABOVE: Garbage day came and went for some while others in Edmonton are still waiting for their waste to be picked up. The City of Edmonton's new bin program hit some roadblocks last week and thousands of people's waste was left hung out to dry. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Jul 6, 2021

The City of Edmonton is working to correct issues it has experienced as it rolls out its new waste collection program.

The city said about 13,000 residents, primarily in the southwest end of the city, did not have waste collected on their scheduled day last week as as part of the city’s new cart rollout.

Curbside supervisor of collections Chris Dilling said the issue was caused by confusion over routes.

“We have a new style of collection with new routes and new collectors and it takes a little while for the collector to get used to the route and the style of collection,” Dilling said.

“There should have been a few more resources added, especially when you’re starting a learning curve on anything like this, and this is a huge for not only the residents but also the collectors.”

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READ MORE: What you need to know as Edmonton begins rollout of new garbage cart system

Jim McKay said he was one of the residents whose bin was missed. McKay contacted the city after his compost was not collected last Friday and was told it would be picked up the following day. However, he said that did not happen, leaving him frustrated.

“Do I leave it here and they pick it up or do I put it back here and then they show up and they miss it again?” McKay said. “So it has to sit here all week, pretty well, hoping they’re going to get it.”

“I can understand why the residents are upset,” Dilling said. “They want a good service, we want to give them a good service and we fell down a little bit last week.”

Dilling said the city is working correct the issues experienced by residents like McKay.

“If he’s called in, we’d have collected it by now. If there’s a one-off like that, if we don’t find out about it right away, we can’t take care of it,” the collections supervisor said. “As soon as we find out about it and we know it’s our mistake, we’ll correct the issue.”

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Dilling believes the issue has been sorted, and he said correcting the problem is not costing additional dollars.

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“The resources were a bit short to start with and that’s been corrected now.”

READ MORE: New garbage, food scraps bins coming to more Edmonton homes

On Thursday, the city said the waste collection delays in southwest Edmonton were due to “contractor fleet and staffing challenges.” The city said it dispatched additional waste collection vehicles to support contractor crews and will work with the contractor until the issues are resolved.

The workers are collecting waste from the skipped, delayed or isolated homes that were missed, the city said.

“Waste Services will continue to monitor performance in the area and expects all delayed collections to be completed by the end of the week,” the city said. “Residents can expect next week’s collection to occur on their regular collection day.”

In a news release, the city said it’s worked with contracted partners for collection services for years to supplement the city’s fleet. Contractors serve half of Edmonton’s single-unit homes, the city said.

The city is asking residents whose waste hasn’t been picked up by 10 p.m. on collection day to report it on the WasteWise mobile app or online at edmonton.ca/waste.

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On Wednesday, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 30, which represents city waste collectors, blamed the issue on a third-party contractor.

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“These carts were not collected because the contractor doesn’t know the work, doesn’t know the routes, and doesn’t know the city,” CUPE president Eric Lewis said. “When the city performed the same work under similar conditions, operations ran smooth.

“If the city kept more services in-house, problems like this wouldn’t happen.”

Lewis said he expects problems to continue to arise in the future because of the contractor.

The city said if any residents have not had their bins collected, report it to 311 or online.

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