Saint John common council has rejected a proposal to stop nighttime garbage collection in the central peninsula.

A staff report had recommended switching back to daytime collection, citing safety issues for crews.

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Garbage collection crews often encounter rats embedded in the garbage they collect at night across Saint John's central peninsula. (CBC)

Workers have had frequent encounters with rats while reaching down to grab garbage in the dark, the report said.

They've also had troubling encounters with people described as "characters," it said.

As a result, managers have had to double-up crews on the one night weekly when trash is collected in the south end, said deputy commissioner Kevin Rice. It's not efficient, he said.

But Coun. Gerry Lowe contends night collection is popular with the public.

"The people of the south end, the ones that I have heard from, I haven't had one single person wanting to remove garbage from being picked up at night," he said. "They don't complain about the noise. They don't complain about anything other than [saying], 'You do a good job.'"

Coun. Susan Fullerton says the other advantage of nighttime collection is it cleans up streets and sidewalks before daylight, which is important during the tourist season.

"We have all the cruise ship passengers. We have people, tourists who come in to see our historic buildings," she said.

Council voted 6-4 against the staff recommendation.