Manitoba

City looking for someone to develop and run 2-year compost pickup pilot project

The wheels are in motion for a residential compost pilot project in Winnipeg, as the city has issued a request for proposal in hopes of finding someone to develop and run the program.

$1.8-million program would involve 4,000 homes along 5 routes

The City of Winnipeg has issued an RFP looking for someone to develop and manage a two-year residential compost pickup pilot project. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

The wheels are in motion for a residential compost pickup pilot project in Winnipeg, as the city has issued a request for proposal in hopes of finding someone to develop and run the program.

City council approved a two-year compost collection pilot project at a council meeting on Dec. 12. The budget for the pilot project is $1.8 million, and approximately 4,000 homes along five different routes will participate in the program.

The city is looking for someone to develop and manage the pilot project, analyze the data, engage with the public and ultimately relay the data to the public service, according to the RFP's scope of services.

The submission deadline for the RFP is noon on Jan. 31, and the city hopes the pilot program will start in the fall, a city spokesperson said.

The public service will report back to council in 2023 with the results of the program and recommendations for a potential city-wide residential compost collection program, according to the motion document.

When she introduced the compost pilot project in council, Daniel McIntyre Coun. Cindy Gilroy said Winnipeg is "one of the last major cities in Canada to have a residential food waste program.

"This pilot project will be the start … and hopefully we'll be able to study and see how it can be incorporated on a larger scale," she said.

There was much support for the program by other council members, but some skepticism as well.

The city has been looking at reducing expenditures, including closing down recreational areas and reducing library hours, and has contemplated eliminating garbage pickup services for apartment complexes.

Yet, it is willing to spend nearly two million dollars in 2020 for the composting pilot program, to the chagrin of North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty.

"We need to stop this today," Browaty said on Dec. 12.

Browaty said the compost bins provided to participants will eventually stink terribly.

Program's effectiveness questioned

Elmwood-East Kildonan Coun. Jason Schreyer — who wants to see the data from the pilot project — said he is skeptical about where money is being spent, and of how much the pilot project will actually help in reducing the city's emissions.

"This onto itself is not a complete report in terms of how we should spend our money to reduce greenhouse emissions," Schreyer said, citing that people's garbage "does not compare" to the amount of emissions created by agriculture and vehicles.

The pilot project had much support, but Coun. Jeff Browaty was critical of the decision to invest in it, and added that the bins will eventually stink. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

"I don't believe for a moment we're going to be sort of solving the greenhouse gas emissions by dealing with composting."

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman acknowledged the scrutiny on spending and the budget decisions that lie ahead. But ultimately, he said he was a huge supporter of the pilot program.

"I recognize there is an investment to be made, but it is a healthy investment in order to get that data," Bowman said.

"I want to be part of a municipal government that is on the right side of the issues … so that we can look our kids and look our residents in the eye and say we're doing everything we can, within our means, to combat climate change."

Climate change is an issue raised quite frequently by the young people around him, Bowman added.

He also noted that climate activist Greta Thunberg was recently named Time magazine's person of the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter with CBC News. Hailing from Newfoundland, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school. Prior to joining the CBC, Frew interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. Story idea? Email him at nick.frew@cbc.ca

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