The Town of Gibsons is wrestling with the question of whether to implement curbside pick-up of organic waste next year.
Local governments on the Coast are trying to extend the lifespan of the Sechelt landfill which is projected to reach its capacity within 10 years. Since almost 50 per cent of household waste going to the landfill is compostable, one strategy is to separate out organics and divert them to a composting facility.
In June, the Town asked for proposals from contractors interested in taking on organics diversion and received a single proposal from Grayco Ventures, the company that currently holds the Gibsons contract for garbage pick-up. Grayco’s curbside pick-up proposal, which is a collaboration with the Vancouver company Ecosafe Zerowaste and Salish Soils in Sechelt, was presented to Gibsons Council at the Oct. 17 committee of the whole meeting.
On Nov. 16, council discussed the financial implications of the proposal on next year’s budget at a special committee of the whole meeting, but they reached no decision.
Gibsons residents currently pay $156 per year for garbage disposal. Depending on how curbside organic collection is implemented and financed, that fee could double. Estimated costs for garbage plus organics pick-up ranged from $249 to $312 per year, although the Town might save some money if it decreased garbage pick-up to every other week.
Interviewed later via email, Councillor Silas White expressed his concern about that price tag. Although White is strongly in favour of composting organic waste, he isn’t sure the Town’s residents will support curbside pick-up.
“I’m not sure how the Town’s residents who already home-compost will feel about paying for the program,” said White.
A survey of Town residents in June, which was answered by 45 per cent of households found that 50 per cent of respondents already compost fruit and vegetable, but even active composters are likely to put meat and bread scraps in the garbage.
The Greenomics report on the survey states: “A new diversion program would have little effect on those who currently compost but would provide an alternative to the 50 per cent of people who do not compost.” Strata units and apartments, particularly, would benefit from curbside pickup.
Council asked Ian Poole, director of finance, to come back to an upcoming meeting with more detailed cost estimates and some alternatives for spreading the start-up costs of the program over several years.
Poole said that curbside pick-up could begin at any time, although April 1 would be ideal because it’s the start of the next residential utility billing cycle. Grayco also needs advance notice to acquire bins and set up the program.
Council has scheduled a community “dialogue” entitled: “Is Your Garbage the Town’s Business?” for Dec. 6 at 7pm at the Gibsons Public Art Gallery. White noted that a previous meeting about organics diversion veered into a more general discussion of solid waste, but this meeting “will be more focused on our collection services.”