Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Councillors dump on Emterra

Firm missed garbage collection more than 16,000 times in 2013

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Several councillors are concerned over the viability of the firm that handles the bulk of the city's waste and recycling pickups.

An administrative report to Wednesday's city council meeting found Emterra missed garbage collection more than 16,000 times in 2013 across Winnipeg, and there were more than 15,000 missed recycling pickups.

The firm is supposed to be fined $75 for every missed pickup, 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, such as truck breakdowns and poor vehicle maintenance.

"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 was awarded a five-year contract in 2012, giving it the bulk of the city's waste pickup and all of its recycling and yard-waste contract.

Emterra officials did not return calls from the Free Press.

Forty per cent of Emterra's fleet, which operates on compressed natural gas, was unable to function in December and January because of the extreme cold, requiring its competitor, BFI, to cover 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."

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

Wyatt, chairman of the city's finance committee, said there are persistent rumours in the waste-pickup industry 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 fulfil its contract and the city has no other firms able to pick up the work.

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

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 B1

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