City hall to vote on trash carts

Members of Winnipeg city council are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to grant garbage giant BFI a near-monopoly on trash collection in the city.

Members of Winnipeg city council are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to grant garbage giant BFI a near-monopoly on trash collection in the city.

If the bid is approved, it would be the sixth of a possible seven city contracts the company would hold.

It would also pave the way for 42,500 homes in the northwest part of the city to receive a rolling trash cart from the city as it tries to slash costs by dumping traditional means of garbage pickup.

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.

Some councillors have been critical of the city's plans, saying there wasn't enough public consultation and too much business would be ceded to BFI.

But officials said Tuesday members of the public concerned about commercial monopolies, recycling issues or the possibility of the carts being placed in other areas of Winnipeg won't be given a soapbox at the council meeting.

Coun. Harry Lazarenko (Mynarski) said the discussion Wednesday will be narrowed to the potential merits and disadvantages of the nearly decade-long BFI contract, worth more than $13 million.

Lazarenko said he won't allow the focus of the council meeting to go off the rails.

"If [people] would be talking about putting additional carts in other parts of the city, that is not before us," Lazarenko said.

Lazarenko said the city is obliged to accept the lowest bid on the garbage contract, which in this case would be BFI's.

But Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said he's still concerned about BFI having too much control over garbage collection in Winnipeg.

"The ramifications of this are very significant," Vandal said. "I don't think creating monopolies is good for our city."

If approved, the cost of providing the carts — estimated at $2 million — would fall to the city, which has said it's possible the use of carts could be expanded to other areas in the future.

The council meeting is slated to start at 9:30 a.m.