Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City dumps high penalties on Emterra

Trash firm fined as much as $450,000

  • Print

Winnipeg's waste collector was fined as much as $450,000 after the city received thousands of complaints about missed pickups since its grace period ended.

Senior city administration released the amount of fines levied against Emterra to public works chairman Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) on Friday amid growing pressure from members of council to make the figures public.

The move came after several members of city council tried to find out how much Winnipeg has fined Emterra for poor service since it began collecting garbage and recycling in the former AutoBin areas on Aug. 1 and from 165,000 households citywide in October. Winnipeg's public administration refused to disclose the figures to members of council, saying releasing the information could harm Emterra's business interests.

Vandal said senior city officials have told him Emterra has been fined between $350,000 and $450,000 for service deficiencies. He said Winnipeg's public administration was initially reluctant to release the amount of fines levied against Emterra for deficient garbage and recycling service since the number has not been finalized.

Vandal said he will ask city administration for more details at council's public works committee meeting on Friday and push for a new policy that would require civic officials to disclose relevant information to elected officials when they ask for it.

"I think it's important we be transparent," Vandal said on Sunday. "(The fine) is not a huge number and I'm confident we're moving in the right direction."

The administration's initial refusal to say how much the city has fined the waste collector for poor service prompted backlash from multiple members of council, who criticized the public service for withholding information from elected officials. Last week, Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) wrote a letter to Emterra, encouraging the company to release the information to the public. On Friday, Mayor Sam Katz sent a letter to Vandal saying he has also been denied this information, but the public service must provide the information if the public works committee requests it. Katz said Vandal could ask city administration for the information at public works' Jan. 11 meeting, or call a special meeting to deal with the issue.

"This is fiscal information that is going to be part of the budget down the line. Why we just aren't getting the information I just find baffling," Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said.

Vandal said he thinks publicizing the fines will encourage Emterra to improve its collection service, much like publicizing health-code violations encourages restaurants to keep their facilities up to par.

He said the numbers show Emterra's garbage and recycling collection has improved and expects problems with the city's new automated collection system will be worked out by spring.

City of Winnipeg 311 service data obtained by the Free Press reveals 10,402 complaints about missed garbage, recycling and yard-waste pickups were reported to the city in November and December. Although the number of missed pickups has dropped from a peak of 14,200 in October, data show there were still nearly 6,000 complaints of missed pickups in November and close to 4,500 in December.

An additional 1,851 instances of "breached missed pickups" -- when garbage, recyclables or yard waste was still not picked up after the problem was first reported to 311 -- have been logged since the beginning of November.

"That's a raw number," city solid waste manager Darryl Drohomerski said of the complaints received through 311. "We have to go and validate (them)."

The city's efforts to track Emterra's performance could be seen Saturday on a long stretch of blue bins in Charleswood that were supposed to have been emptied on Friday.

A worker in a City of Winnipeg truck drove slowly along Laxdal Road and stopped to look inside each bin to track the number of overdue collections of recyclables.

Drohomerski said not all complaints result in a financial penalty, and the city has other waste collectors besides Emterra.

BFI collects garbage and recyclables at apartments, commercial businesses and city facilities, and garbage in St. James, Garden City and the Maples, he said. The city levies similar fines for service disruptions.

Drohomerski said a small number of complaints each month could be duplicates from the same household or residents who forgot to put their garbage and recyclables out on time. He said city staff go through to check which complaints should result in a financial penalty for the waste collector.

"By rights, if we didn't miss them it shouldn't be a penalty," Drohomerski said.

Drohomerski said he expects the number of complaints about missed pickups to drop in the coming weeks.

He said both BFI and Emterra struggled with mechanical issues over the holidays, when the weather was cold, resulting in collection delays, particularly for apartments.

Data show complaints over missed garbage pickups did not drop significantly in December.

"If both companies hadn't experienced mechanical issues, the numbers would've been much lower over the holiday season," Drohomerski said.

Pickup hiccups


Total missed-pickup complaints: 14,216

Yard waste not picked up: 2,728

Recycling not picked up: 6,560

Garbage not picked up: 4,928



Total missed-pickup complaints: 5,914

Yard waste not picked up: 535.

Recycling not picked up: 2,633

Garbage not picked up: 2,746



Total missed-pickup complaints: 4,488

Recycling not picked up: 1,961

Garbage not picked up: 2,527



-- source: City of Winnipeg, 311 service requests by electoral ward and service area

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 B1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Top 5: Famous facts about the Stanley Cup

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(Standup photo)- Humming Around- A female ruby -throated hummingbird fly's through the bee bomb  flowers Friday at the Assiniboine Park English Garden- Nectar from flowers are their main source of food. Hummingbirds wings can beat as fast as 75x times second. Better get a glimpse of them soon the birds fly far south for the winter - from Mexico to South America- JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- Sept 10, 2009
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google