A new bi-weekly garbage collection with a startup cost of $2.6 million was given the green light by Richmond City Council Monday.
Most of the money will account for new garbage carts, similar to the green carts used for organics.
Starting in 2016 residents will only need to roll out their 240-litre cart once every two weeks. They will be able to choose a smaller cart for a discount or a larger one for an additional fee.
The changes come after a year-long pilot program in two neighbourhoods of the city.
“What I like about this program is it puts the decision in the hands of the people,” said Coun. Carol Day.
According to a city report the benefits will be a projected five to eight per cent increase in recycling, particularly organics disposal.
“If you have a smelly garbage container after two weeks we’ll know you’re dumping your organics into the garbage,” quipped Coun. Harold Steves, calling the change “long overdue” granted all Metro Vancouver municipalities save for Burnaby and North Vancouver are on bi-weekly collection.
Coun. Chak Au noted residents can make special pickup requests.
Collection costs for the city will likely not go down because of added time to pick up the new carts, but savings in garbage disposal in the future are expected.
“It depends on residents’ behaviour and how they dispose of their garbage,” stated fleet and environmental programs manager Suzanne Bycraft.
The city’s goal is 80 per cent waste diversion by 2020. Right now it stands at 71 per cent.
“To get to 80 per cent is an incredible leap. It’s very difficult because all the low hanging fruit is gone; the efficiencies are taken up,” stated Malcolm Brodie
The move is not without some opposition.
Councillors Alexa Loo and Bill McNulty voted against the program.
Loo noted the majority of surveyed residents from the pilot programs preferred weekly collection, according to the report.
“It sounds like the people of Richmond want their garbage picked up weekly and it doesn’t sound like they want the city spending $2.6 million changing that,” said Loo.
Meanwhile, McNulty said he was concerned the pilot program was too short and not encompassing enough (particularly since only a minority of residents filled out the survey).