Emterra paying hefty fines for poor service

Winnipeg's garbage contractor, Emterra, could be forking over a lot more money in fines starting on Thursday for uncollected trash and recycling.
Emterra's garbage and recycling service has been heavily criticized for failing to meet pickup dates. (CBC)

Winnipeg's garbage contractor, Emterra, could be forking over a lot more money in fines starting on Thursday for uncollected trash and recycling.

The company has already been dinged for not meeting its deadlines in areas that were once served by the dumpster-sized metal autobins.

The company began serving those areas on Aug. 1, under one contract.

Service to the rest of the city, under a separate contract, began at the start of October.

Both contracts came with 30-day grace periods for the company to work out kinks and make sure the collection service was being provided efficiently.

That service, however, has been anything but smooth and has come under heavy criticism.

As a result, the city began slapping Emterra with fines in the former autobin areas as of Sept. 1.

Katz said earlier on Wednesday that with the fines Emterra has had to pay, the company is "actually paying us to pick up garbage and recycling because of that situation" in some parts of the city.

But a city spokesperson later told CBC News that the penalties paid by Emterra do not exceed what they are charging for the service.

In an email, the spokesperson said officials with the city's water and waste department had given the mayor's office "a premature estimate … of the tally of the financial penalties for the month of September for the 24,000 properties formerly served by the autobin area."

2nd grace period ends Thursday

The grace period for Emterra's second contract, which began Oct. 1, expires on Thursday.

Katz said while Emterra has been hit with many penalties from the first contract, its service has since improved.

"I can tell you the number of emails or calls that I'm getting have plummeted," he said.

"I'm actually getting a lot of people now saying, 'You know what? My service is great. I love the new system.'"

In the first two weeks of October, the city's 311 hotline received more than 5,400 "calls of service deficiencies" regarding the garbage collection service.

Katz said if the late garbage and recycling pickups continue, the city may look at reducing its contract with Emterra.

However, he said the fines should be a good motivator for the company to improve its service.