Gerbasi

City Coun. Jenny Gerbasi has questions about awarding BFI a sixth garbage-collection contract in Winnipeg. ((City of Winnipeg))

A veteran city councillor says she's concerned about garbage giant BFI Canada having a near-monopoly on trash pickup in Winnipeg.

Coun. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said Thursday it's anti-competitive to award the Toronto-based company a sixth contract for residential garbage pickup in the city.

City hall's committee on infrastructure renewal and public works is holding a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to discuss and vote on awarding the more than $13 million contract to BFI which would be in place until 2017, city documents said.

BFI currently holds five of seven residental garbage contracts for the city.

And while city managers are recommending the new contract be approved, Gerbasi said awarding BFI another contract flies in the face of the city's decision to completely farm out all garbage pickup to private companies years ago.

City-run crews made their last trash collections in 2005.

The reasoning behind privatization of garbage pickup was that it would improve the city's bottom line through cost-savings and increased competition.

"If there's one company, where's the competition that we were supposed to have by contracting out?" Gerbasi wondered. She does not sit on the committee set to vote Friday morning.

City documents show BFI was the lowest bidder of five private companies for the contract, which covers trash collection in the north-west part of Winnipeg.

Currently, Texas-based company Waste Management of Canada conducts trash removal in the area.

But Darryl Drohomerski, the city's manager of solid waste services, said Gerbasi's concerns about BFI having a stranglehold on garbage pickup are unfounded.

"There's lots more players on the national level that also bid on this work. So we fully expect lots more competition in the future," Drohomerski said.

Even if the infrastructure renewal and public works committee votes Friday to award the contract to BFI, city guidelines mean it must still pass through a full council vote.

Garbage carts to be part of BFI deal

The contract would also see 42,500 homes in the contract's catchment area be outfitted with garbage carts on wheels that would be rolled to the front curb or lane on garbage pickup days.

The carts would replace traditional garbage cans and save the city money because they can be emptied by one person operating a truck designed specifically to lift and dump them.

It would cost the city $2 million to supply one cart to each of the homes targeted for the pilot project.

In city documents, the four councillors sitting on the committee with Mayor Sam Katz were presented with the following chart outlining the pros and cons of the garbage cart system:

Advantages Disadvantages
Neighbourhoods would become cleaner as all garbage is contained in carts. Backlane customers would be required to have all carts on one side of lane only on collection day.
Increased opportunities for waste diversion through recycling and composting. Volume of garbage would be limited to amount in container and bulky waste pickup only.
Customers would not have to purchase initial garbage containers. Cost to supply carts to entire city is significant. Cost of carts not budgeted for by Solid Waste Services at this time.

Following the trend toward automation of other cities in Canada and the U.S. as workforce ages.

Perception that this contract area is being treated differently because the contracts in other areas not up for renewal until 2012 (Northeast) and 2013 (South).

The cost of cart collection is less than manual collection once the carts are paid for.

Next opportunity to change the collection in this area is 2017.

 

Containers have an average life expectancy of 20 years.

 

Eventually entire city would have same collection system for both garbage and recycling.