Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Garbage confusion

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The befuddlement at city hall never seems to end. Council's public works committee, for example, this week asked for a report on how other cities manage waste collection and what the options are for service.

Well, you'd have thought that would have been done before the city implemented its plan for (allegedly) automated pickup with rolling carts. And if you thought that, you would be correct.

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According to the October 2011 report on the garbage and recycling master plan, the city conducted exhaustive research on the issue. Before developing the current plan, a stakeholder advisory committee was established, a consultant who has helped implement similar programs in other cities was hired for technical expertise, other cities were consulted and the public's input was sought. It's all on page 8 of the report.

The city did its due diligence on the concept, but the problem seems to have occurred in the implementation by Emterra, the firm that won the five-year contract to pick up the city's residential waste and recycling. The city should also have ensured the company had the capability, the staff, the training and the equipment to do the job. At this point, it's reasonable to wonder if any of those conditions were met.

Garbage collection isn't rocket science, so the controversy over missed pickups should eventually subside.

CUPE Local 500, meanwhile, is calling for an audit to ensure the contract is cost-effective, but last year's report already anticipated the need for "routine monitoring and reporting, including an annual status review." Under the circumstances, however, a special audit eventually could be worthwhile to ensure the city is getting the most service for the least money.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2012 A12

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