Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Garbage service starts to pick up

Emterra complaints down in new year

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Despite months of complaints about late or even no garbage and recycling pickups, Winnipeg's new private collection service is stacking up well this winter, an independent poll concludes.

"The findings show that of Winnipeggers with (household) garbage and recycling bins, garbage and recycling pickup was, in fact, completed on the correct day, nine out of 10 (times)," Prairie Research Associates said Thursday in a statement about the poll findings.

Only four per cent of Winnipeg households in the survey had a complaint. Most often, their garbage and recycling wasn't picked up on the right day. On average, the waiting time was two days.

The poll sampled 480 households by phone between Jan. 14 and Jan. 25. Some 396 reported pickups as scheduled.

A week before the poll was conducted, reports showed Winnipeg's waste collector was fined as much as $450,000 after thousands of complaints about missed collections were filed following the company's grace period.

Emterra has been plagued by complaints about poor service since it began collecting garbage and recycling in the former AutoBin areas last August before expanding to 165,000 households citywide since October.

City of Winnipeg 311 service data obtained by the Free Press revealed 10,402 complaints about missed garbage, recycling and yard-waste pickups were reported in November and December. The highest number of complaints -- 14,200 -- were filed in October.

Given that backdrop, the poll results should have been a surprise, but they weren't.

The pollster found services were making the grade by January.

"This is what happens when you have a new service... There are problems while the new service shakes down, and then the service seems to stabilize. At this point, even in the winter, the service now seems to have settled down," PRA partner Greg Mason said.

The phone survey is considered accurate within 4.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The pollster decided to look at garbage and recycling after learning nobody else was.

"I'm surprised there wasn't regular tracking of this (by the city), and when we realized there was no independent tracking, we decided to do it on our own," Mason said.

The firm plans to conduct regular scoring of Winnipeg garbage and recycling services.

The survey was conducted by the pollster without public or private funds.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 8, 2013 A7

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