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Councillors question future of Emterra

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An administrative report found that Emterra missed garbage collection over 16,000 times in 2013 across Winnipeg and there were more than 15,000 missed recycling pick-ups.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

An administrative report found that Emterra missed garbage collection over 16,000 times in 2013 across Winnipeg and there were more than 15,000 missed recycling pick-ups. Photo Store

Several councillors expressed concern today over the viability of the firm that handles the bulk of the city’s waste and recycling pick-ups.

An administrative report found that Emterra missed garbage collection over 16,000 times in 2013 across Winnipeg and there were more than 15,000 missed recycling pick-ups.

The firm is supposed to be fined $75 for every missed pick-up but the administration refuses to state the amount of fines the company paid in 2013, citing business confidentiality.

Several councillors said the company has other serious problems – truck break-downs and poor vehicle maintenance – that, combined with the missed pick-ups, indicate the company could be bankrupt before its five-year contract with the city expires.

"Nobody would tolerate a company that had that level of misses," Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said. "I question whether Emterra is sustainable... if they continue to face this level of problems."

Emterra officials could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

'The service is horrible': councillor

Emterra was awarded a five-year contract in 2012 that gave it the bulk of the city’s waste pick-up and all of its recycling and yard waste.

Forty per cent of Emterra’s fleet, which operates on compressed natural gas, was unable to function in December and January due to the extreme cold, requiring its competitor, BFI, to do some of its routes.

"The service is horrible," Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-East Fort Garry) said. "There is absolutely no reason why this service should be so poor."

Wyatt said several trucks in Emterra’s fleet were pulled off the road last year by provincial inspectors because they were deemed unsafe.

Coun. Russ Wyatt, chairman of the city’s finance committee, said there are persistent rumors in the waste pick-up industry that Emterra is not viable.

"Something’s going on with that company," Wyatt (Transcona) said.

Wyatt said the city could face a serious problem if Emterra is unable to fulfill its contract and city has no other firms able to pick up the work.

"These are serious concerns that have to be addressed," Wyatt said.

However, public works chairman Justin Swandel defended Emterra, explaining that its record of missed pick-ups was less than one per cent, adding the city should be patient and see how it performs in its second full year of service.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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