Strata resident Ian Routledge speaks to a crowd at a March 23 rally at city hall

Strata resident Ian Routledge speaks to a crowd at a March 23 rally at city hall

City leaders stand firm on trash plan

Mayor acknowledges ‘we should have done more’ to communicate decision.

Despite sitting down with the mayor twice in one week, a group of White Rock condominium residents say they are still not happy with the city’s plans to privatize solid-waste pickup.

After meeting with Mayor Wayne Baldwin and the city’s chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill last week, a handful of strata residents returned to city hall Monday to follow up discussions on the future of multifamily garbage pickup.

A number of options were outlined for the group, however at the meeting’s end, Bottrill said he would recommend council move forward with changes, set to take effect July 1.

Strata resident Ian Routledge told Peace Arch News Monday afternoon that the group “came out of the meeting not happy.”

“I get the distinct impression that they want nothing to do with garbage pickup,” Routledge said. “It’s too much of a challenge for them. They’re thinking it’s better to let the private companies deal with it.”

Baldwin, however, said the planned changes are meant to bring White Rock in line with how other municipalities in the region deal with solid-waste pickup.

“Our costs for solid waste are among the highest in the region,” Baldwin told PAN Tuesday. “We are way behind the times in terms of setting a user fee instead of a tax, which is based on assessed value and not for the service received.”

The changes, first announced by the city in January, have been in the works for three years, Baldwin said, noting he was “a little bit” surprised at the backlash from residents in recent weeks.

“I suppose any time you do something, somebody’s going to be not very happy with it,” he said. “That’s the name of the game.”

Much of the criticism from residents has been about the closed-door meeting in December at which council voted to approve the changes.

“The only thing that happened at that in-camera meeting was to decide to go ahead. Staff had been working on it for quite a while,” he said. “Where I think we failed was in the communication of (the changes). We did put out communication almost immediately – not during Christmas, because people would have thought we were trying to hide it, we waited until January. People didn’t pay attention really until more recently.”

The outcry directed at city hall – including a rally of more than 100 angry residents March 23 – has not gone unheard, Baldwin said.

“We should have done more, I can see that now,” he said. “At the time, it seemed like we were doing enough.”

In light of the public’s dissent in recent weeks, last week Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney requested a special council meeting be held to discuss the situation. That meeting is scheduled for April 7 at 1 p.m.

A city-hosted public information meeting took place Wednesday evening after PAN deadline.