MAYOR Sam Katz said Winnipeg's new waste-collection contractor should suffer financial penalties if service disruptions continue beyond a grace period the contract spells out.
On Oct. 1, Emterra Environmental began collecting garbage and recyclables from residential homes in most areas of the city, utilizing new rolling carts. Previously, only northwest Winnipeg homes and former autobin areas had the rolling carts.
Hiccups in the new service, including a shortage of paper bags for yard-waste collection in suburban areas and dumping in former autobin areas, have prompted complaints from Couns. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) and Ross Eadie (Mynarski), among others.
Katz told reporters Wednesday his own garbage wasn't collected on time the previous week. Disruptions can be expected at the beginning of any new service, he said, adding both Emterra and Winnipeg's water and waste department deserve time to adjust to the new system.
"The department made it clear there would be some kinks that would have to be worked out the first little while. It's not unreasonable to give them a reasonable amount of time to work out the kinks. After that, there are penalties that should be implemented on the contractor," Katz said outside his office, surmising the grace period is two weeks. "It's something new, and anything new does take a little bit of time. I don't think we want it to last for long."
The city's contract with Emterra actually allows for a one-month grace period, "recognizing there is always an adjustment period any time you launch a large-scale program," city spokeswoman Tammy Melesko said in a statement.
If problems such as missed collections persist, the city could take work away from the company, she added.
Emterra plans to get up to speed well before the end of the month, penalty or no penalty, said Paulina Leung, the firm's business-development manager. The firm takes pride in its work and wants to rectify the issues as soon as possible, she added.
"We're going through a transition period. This transition into the new program affects everyone -- ourselves, our drivers and residents," Leung said. "As every day goes by, our drivers become more proficient at learning the routes."
Residents are also becoming more familiar with the new system, she added.
Emterra collects residential recycling across Winnipeg and garbage collection in former autobin areas and three quadrants of the city: southwest, southeast and northeast. BFI, a different contractor, collects residential garbage in northwest Winnipeg, except in former autobin areas.
In a news release issued late Wednesday, the city said curbside collection is a half-day to a day behind schedule in some areas of the city. Emterra will be working into the weekend to complete this week's collection.
Some pickup tips
How should I put the carts out for pickup?
City of Winnipeg officials say they should be at least an arm's length apart so crews can use the automated trucks to pick them up and empty them. If there's snow on the ground, you'll need to clear a spot for the carts.
What do I do with my yard waste?
Don't put it in a plastic bag. Put it in a paper bag or another reusable container -- such as an old garbage can or blue box. The city will collect yard waste biweekly, so you can leave it near your garbage and recycling carts for pickup.
I'm having trouble rolling my carts out. What should I do?
Phone 311 or go to winnipeg.ca and fill out a form to see if you qualify for the city's walk-up service. Collection crews will roll carts out for individuals who are not physically able to do it themselves.
-- Jen Skerritt