Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Weekend blitz brings garbage collection back on schedule

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WINNIPEG'S waste collector hired additional staff to pick up yard waste as it rushed to catch up with garbage and recycling collections by the city's Sunday night deadline.

The weekend blitz has brought garbage collection throughout the city back on schedule. Well, almost.

"There may have been a few streets missed, but that's normal with any city garbage operation. It's not unusual to have a few streets missed," said City of Winnipeg spokeswoman Tammy Melesko, noting there were some pockets in St. Vital where yard waste wasn't picked up.

Garbage contractors were going over details of the weekend collection late Sunday and planned to ensure any streets that were missed are hit today. If today is your normal garbage day, prepare to see your friendly neighbourhood garbage collectors in your back lane.

"Hopefully, we'll have a smoother third week," Melesko said.

Last week, the city threatened to hire additional collection crews and charge Emterra if the company did not catch up with missed pickups by Sunday at 6 p.m. Some residents had complained they hadn't had garbage collection in two weeks. Collection crews were as much as a full day behind the collection schedule.

City solid waste manager Darryl Drohomerski said via email Emterra hired additional crews to deal with the high volumes of yard waste. Sunday afternoon, Drohomerski said it was premature to say whether crews would finish collecting missed pickups by the city's deadline, but it looked promising.

A Toronto-based spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the situation.

On Oct. 1, 165,000 single-family homes switched to automated garbage and recycling carts from manual collection. Since then, the city has received thousands of 311 hotline calls complaining about service disruptions.

On Sunday, Emterra trucks combed neighbourhoods in south Winnipeg such as St. Vital and Fort Richmond to collect paper bags piled high with leaves.

"I don't know what we're going to do," said Candace Blahy, who had more than six massive piles of leaves on her Laval Drive lawn.

"This is only the front yard," Blahy said.

Blahy said she tried to purchase additional paper yard waste bags but stores such as Canadian Tire were sold out. She said one store told her they sold all 800 bags on Friday and were expecting another shipment early this week.

Blahy said the bags the city initially handed out for yard waste aren't nearly enough to handle all of the fallen leaves.

"It's crazy," she said, estimating she could fill at least 20 bags with yard waste.

Fort Richmond resident Nancy Gates said she phoned her city councillor about a tree near the edge of her property after she had trouble purchasing additional yard waste bags.

Gates said the tree belongs to the city and it would take about eight paper yard waste bags to collect all of its leaves that fell on her lawn and on the street.

"We've looked all over the place and can't find them," she said. "We have a lot of leaves."

The city will no longer pick up yard waste in plastic bags but officials said residents may put them in paper bags, old garbage cans or blue boxes. Residents may also take their leaves to the Brady Road landfill for composting.

Residents in other parts of the city were trying to figure out what to do with excess recyclables that piled up when collection crews missed recent pickups.

Charleswood resident Bryan Cheater said his recycling cart was finally emptied Friday for the first time in two weeks. Cheater said he has two old blue boxes of recyclables piled high in his garage and it could take awhile before he is able to add all the excess material to his weekly cart collection.

"Eventually, I might be able to get rid of it," he said. "I guess you're forced to put in a little bit at a time until it's caught up."

Gates said she thinks the city's new collection system will help divert waste away from landfill once people get used to it.

"We just have to suffer a bit in the beginning, I guess," she said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 15, 2012 A3

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Updated on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 7:17 AM CDT: New headline

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