Hamilton

Are Hamiltonians ready for biweekly garbage pickup?

The third rail of Hamilton politics — whether household garbage pickup should be reduced to every two weeks — is coming back to city hall this month.

Councillor John-Paul Danko says the city should tender for weekly and biweekly pickup

A Hamilton city councillor will bring up the notion of biweekly garbage pickup on Nov. 18. (Rick Hughes/CBC)

The third rail of Hamilton politics — whether household garbage pickup should be reduced to every two weeks — is coming back to city hall this month.

The city is tendering for a collector of Hamilton garbage from 2021 to 2028. John-Paul Danko, Ward 8 (west Mountain) councillor, says that should include costing for a biweekly option too. He'll introduce that idea on Nov. 18.

Reduced garbage collection would be cheaper and greener, Danko said Monday. So he wants to put the idea out to market.

"It's a seven-year contract," he said, "so we have an opportunity now if we want to make a change."

Biweekly garbage collection has come up at least three times since 2007. In 2016, a staff report said it would save about $1 million. In 2017, the city surveyed residents about it, and 54 per cent said biweekly collection would have "some" or a "big" impact on them.

Council opinion is mixed. Some, like Coun. Maria Pearson (Ward 10), said in 2016 that it's either reduced pickup or incineration, and the public doesn't want the latter. Chad Collins (Ward 5), meanwhile, said it's not an area where he's willing to cut corners. 

Danko says it's prudent to look at it. The city is facing a 5.5 per cent budget increase, although that number will likely change before the budget is approved.

"Hamilton taxpayers are now facing significant property tax hikes in 2020 and beyond," he said in a statement on his website. "As a council, I believe we have a duty to taxpayers to identify savings in our budgets – even if difficult choices must be made."

"Once we receive market pricing back, we can make an informed decision on the best course of action."

Danko's motion says nine comparable municipalities, including Halton and Waterloo, collect garbage every two weeks.

Niagara just approved a biweekly schedule too, although it's two bags every two weeks. The change which will take effect in Oct. 19, 2020. It will apply to single family homes, buildings with up to six units, and for industrial, commercial and institutional and mixed-use properties located outside designated business areas. Other cities have made the switch, the region said, and increased the amount of garbage diverted from landfills.

As for Hamilton, Danko said the goal is to divert 65 per cent of waste from landfill. For years, that diversion rate has hovered between 40 and 50 per cent.

Any change, he said, wouldn't impact green bin or blue box collection.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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