Winnipeg's garbage and recycling pickup schedule will be back on track by the end of this week, city officials promise.

The new garbage and recycling collection system has been plagued with delays since it rolled out citywide on Oct. 1.

Garbage crews were given a deadline to get caught up on the collection schedule by Sunday evening, after falling behind in recent weeks.

Emterra, which holds the city's garbage and recycling collection contract, was threatened with penalties if the service was not caught up by Sunday.

Darryl Drohomerski, the city's manager of solid waste services, told reporters on Monday afternoon that as of Sunday night, almost all areas have had their garbage collected, with the exception of the odd street here and there.

Drohomerski said homes in the Norwood Flats neighbourhood have not yet had their recycling picked up yet, but he added that Emterra has submitted a plan for that.

Everything should be back on track starting on Tuesday, with the exception of some spots, Drohomerski said, adding that everything will be caught up by week's end.

Drohomerski said Emterra submitted its plan on Saturday on how it intends to bring the collection schedule back on track, but he said that plan will not be made public.

Councillor still waiting

But River Heights Coun. John Orlikow says his garbage still hasn't been picked up, and it has been two weeks.

Orlikow said he has previously called the city's 311 number to register a complaint but on Monday morning, his garbage bin was still sitting there full.

He can't believe the city is saying everything is caught up.

"That's a pretty strong statement to make — that we've all caught up now," he said.

"People hear that [and] people are tired of waiting. They've been very patient … but the patience is wearing out."

Earlier on Monday, Drohomerski said Emterra worked through the weekend to clear the backlog and the deadline has been met — for the most part.

"There's little bits and pieces, what we kind of refer to as kind of little weird misses where we get all the streets in a neighbourhood but miss one cross street or something," he said.

Too early to say about fines

Emterra is still catching up on yard waste pickup and Drohomerski said it's too early to know if the city will slap the company with fines.

City officials have said they would consider hiring another company to finish the job and bill Emterra for the work, among other options.

But on Monday, Drohomerski said the city has not had to call in any backup workers, as Emterra is paying for overtime incurred by its workers.

Orlikow said he is still surprised the city is claiming everything is mostly caught up.

"Am I the only one? I find that pretty super-shocking if I'm the only one not picked up, my one block," he said.

Orlikow worries the city went with the lowest bid and perhaps the company doesn't have enough staff or trucks to do the job.

Drohomerski said he is aware of Orlikow's situation and will look into it.

"When I went through there last week, or we went through it last week, and we saw all the garbage was picked up. So I'm not too sure, I have to actually contact him directly to find out what's going on there," he said.

Special meeting urged

St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes is also demanding answers, saying his ward has had a number of problems.

"The southern part, which is a Friday pickup … there's been a lot of problems. And the bit that is south of the Perimeter has been a complete fiasco, so we really do need some answers," he said.

He is calling for a special meeting of the city's Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works (IRPW) committee. In a letter sent to IRPW chair Coun. Dan Vandal, Mayes requests the committee gather ahead of its scheduled Oct. 30 meeting.

"My ward residents deserve answers before then," he said.

Mayes said he wants answers to the following questions and concerns he is presenting:

  • "Will the city be paying Emterra the originally-contracted price despite the failure to pick up several streets in my ward, and perhaps elsewhere for one or two weeks?  If not, what penalties are we assessing on Emterra?
  • "Some parts of St. Vital are '0-for-October' in terms of yard waste pickup. None. Are we penalizing Emterra for this, or paying them the originally-contracted price? Will the city now re-open the St. Vital Park Leaf Depot, which you and other councilors voted against doing because the city was to provide door-to-door pickup?
  • "I am advised by a resident that Emterra missed Sherwood-Vareness back lane pickup on both Tuesdays and then got 'caught up' on Saturday by having the garbage truck empty both recycling and garbage into the garbage. Is this accurate?  If so, was it done elsewhere to get 'caught up?'
  • "If we are 'caught up' after two weeks, even though many streets were missed entirely the first week, and collection took place on Saturday and Sunday both weeks, are we now facing a situation where Saturday and Sunday pick-up are 'the new normal?'
  • "I was advised Sunday night by city staff that some areas of my ward south of the Perimeter were not picked up before this weekend because 'the operator and supervisor didn't realize it was part of Winnipeg.' Getting word of this incompetence literally took my breath away. Are we confident that Emterra now understands the boundaries of the city of Winnipeg?
  • "I do not hold you personally responsible for any of this mess, however, I can assure you Emterra is a four-letter word in large parts of my ward."