File photo                                Bill Vigars speaks to a crowd of more than 100 gathered at city hall in March 2015 to protest White Rock’s privatization of multifamily garbage pickup.

File photo Bill Vigars speaks to a crowd of more than 100 gathered at city hall in March 2015 to protest White Rock’s privatization of multifamily garbage pickup.

White Rock leaders rethink waste pickup

Review to examine possibility of reinstating multi-family, commercial service

The City of White Rock will take another look at the contentious subject of garbage collection in the city, following a unanimous vote by the new council this week.

Monday’s vote endorsed Mayor Darryl Walker’s motion “that there be some kind of an overall review of the pickup of solid waste in our community, including both public and private; including individual single-family dwellings, apartments, condominiums and so on.”

The previous council drew public ire after the city announced in January 2015 that it would “privatize” multi-family and commercial garbage and recycling collection – particularly when it was later learned that stratas and businesses would have to find and contract companies and that the decision was made at a non-public meeting of council a month earlier, just a few weeks after the 2014 election.

At the time, the city justified discontinuing collection as “fair and equitable,” saying that, under private collection, businesses would be charged by weight, rather than assessed property value, while multi-family buildings that were already contracting private collection would no longer be charged an additional levy.

But a protest rally was held at city hall and residents and business owners packed a public meeting on garbage collection at White Rock Community Centre in March 2015 – many expressing anger at the lack of public consultation, and a feeling of “abandonment.”

The city subsequently studied the possibility of contracting out single-family collection, but eventually opted to continue with city staff, although council switched to a user-fee charge.

Monday’s move followed receipt of a staff report updating the status of the city’s solid-waste management program. However, Walker asked city manager Dan Bottrill whether there was an opportunity for a broader look at garbage collection – and heard that such a move would be at the discretion of council.

“If you’re specifically asking, for example, should we be collecting commercial or multi-family, which we stopped… staff would have to review that to see exactly how that process would work,” Bottrill said.

Coun. David Chesney also asked that a review include an update on the organic and green waste material collected, particularly with reference to the storage of green waste at the city’s Keil Street works yard, which has led to complaints from neighbours.

Bottrill responded that discontinuing the storage at the Keil Street yard would only be possible if the city contracted out green-waste collection, something considered in the past.