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Solid waste services committee recommends county-wide rural pickup

by Patrick Raftis

GUELPH - Wellington County’s solid waste services committee has recommended extending rural garbage and recycling pickup up throughout the municipality.

If endorsed by county council on March 31, bi-weekly rural pickup will begin on July 1 in the five Wellington municipalities where the service is not currently offered.

The committee recommended expanding rural service, currently offered only in Erin and Guelph-Eramosa, after receiving a report on March 8 from county engineer Gordon Ough that included results of a telephone survey of residents.

Between Feb. 15 and 22, Oraclepoll Research Limited conducted phone interviews with 600 randomly-selected county residents on issues related to waste management services in the county.

The survey indicates 75 per cent of respondents believe it is “very important” that all residents of the county have equal access to waste and recycling services. Equality of service was rated “somewhat important” by a further 18% of respondents, while only 2% said it was “not very important” and 4% considered it “not important at all.”

“There is a very high premium on equality of service amongst county residents,” the report states.

The survey also indicates 43% of residents “strongly support” and 41% “support” expanding the curbside collection of waste and recyclables to rural areas not currently receiving the service. Just 13% opposed the expansion and a further 3% “strongly oppose” it.

A majority of survey respondents continued to support service expansion even if it hit them in the pocketbook.

The 503 residents who either “support” or “strongly support” county-wide rural collection were then asked if they supported expanding rural collection if it required an increase in annual property taxes.

A majority of respondents, 59%, still supported expanding rural collection (of those, 26% indicated strong support). Of the 41% opposed on this question, 22% indicated strong opposition.

Providing collection bi-weekly is the most cost effective method of expanding the service while also keeping household cost somewhat aligned in urban and rural areas, the report indicates.

“Due to the lower housing density in rural areas, the average annual rate of providing collection services to rural residents is $138.65 per household on a weekly basis and $108.27 on a bi-weekly basis,” the report states.

“This compares to an average annual rate of $87 per household in urban areas.”

The Oraclepoll survey pointed out 91% of Guelph-Eramosa and Erin rural residents stated bi-weekly collection meets their needs.

Projections indicate that while it will cost $107,800 to implement bi-weekly rural collection, the move will actually result in annual savings of $41,200 once increased user fees are factored in.

The committee has recommended amending user fees, currently $1.75 for large user-pay bags and a $1 per small user-pay bag or any bag dropped off at a landfill site or transfer station. The fees would be raised to $2 per large bag or bag dropped off by a resident, and $1.50 per small user-pay bag.

The report states, “If county-wide rural collection is implemented and the proposed user fee structure is adopted, it will encourage all residents to use the curbside service as there will no longer be a monetary advantage to choosing to use the sites. Even those that continue to bring their waste to the sites will be paying the higher price.”

The report indicates costs for implementing weekly collection would have been nearly $420,000 and annual costs would have approached $270,000, even with the higher user fees factored in.

The committee has flagged the topic of rural collection as a top priority in an ongoing solid waste services strategy analysis.

“It was felt that by addressing the rural collection topic at the outset of the analysis, it will focus and streamline the remainder of the study,” the report states.

Mapleton Mayor Neil Driscoll, who had been lobbying for expansion of rural pickup in a township where some residents have to drive 30 minutes to reach a transfer station, said, “I know we will have some happy residents in Mapleton.”

Announcing the decision at the March 8 Mapleton council meeting, Driscoll stated, “Finally, after many years of possibly just toeing a line in Wellington County, solid waste services is moving in a direction to help all of our residents.”

March 11, 2016

 
 

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