'Nobody shows up': Winnipeg seniors waited 3 weeks for garbage pickup

A 70-year-old senior in Transcona says the city has failed to pick up his garbage since Sept. 28.

Transcona couple says animals started digging through trash as garbage trucks kept driving past their home

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      Two seniors in Winnipeg's Transcona neighbourhood say the city failed to pick up their garbage for almost three weeks, after new contractors took over the city's collection service at the start of the month.

      Siggy Dykstra and his wife, Bunny — who are both 70 and live on Paulley Drive — rely on the city's "walk-up" service for their garbage collection.

      The program requires collectors to walk up to people's homes, collect their bins and empty them, rather than the homeowners being required to wheel the bins to the curbside. Both Bunny and Siggy have health problems that limit their mobility. Siggy travels by a wheelchair because of his arthritis and Bunny has a bad hip. 

      The couple has been using the walk-up service for three years and had no problems with it until Sept. 28. They say after that, the city stopped emptying their bins.

      Miller Waste Systems and GFL Environmental began collecting garbage and recycling in the city on Oct. 2, taking over from the city's previous contractor, Emterra Environmental and Progressive Waste Solutions.

      "We have the dogs that are roaming around, they've opened a few bags. They've ripped them apart," Siggy said.

      "Dogs, skunks… It's getting way out of hand."

      Siggy said he and his wife called the city's 311 help line several times and were told a supervisor would come to look at the situation. When CBC visited them on Thursday, Oct. 19, that hadn't happened yet. 

      "Once again, nobody shows up," he said.

      Thursday turnaround 

      On Thursday, as usual, the Dykstras waited for their garbage pick-up service. The first truck that came drove past their driveway.

      "That's it. It just left it," said Bunny, watching through her window as the truck drove away.

      A second truck, responsible for picking up recycling, came around the block. It also drove past the Dykstras' house. 

      "It really upsets me. I don't know why but it does," said Siggy.

      Siggy's son, Jonathan, was at the house visiting Thursday. Seeing the trucks pass the house, he headed outside and chased after the GFL vehicle. He told the drivers they had missed his parents' house. 

      A few minutes later, the trucks circled back. A collector in a neon yellow vest hopped out. He emptied one garbage bin but left the remaining debris surrounding it.

      "He took the bin, that's it," said Siggy. "You can see the rest of the garbage. It's still sitting there." 
      Two seniors in Winnipeg's Transcona neighbourhood say the city failed to pick up their garbage for almost three weeks, after new contractors took over the city's collection service at the start of the month. 1:56

      But a few moments later, a city supervisor in a white truck finally came to their door. Bunny answered it, frustrated. 

      "We've been phoning since the new company took over," she told him.

      "We've been phoning about every day since we've been missed. They keep telling us that somebody would come down and pick it up. Nobody picked it up. The garbage is still laying there." 

      The supervisor said the city uses a tablet to keep track of the walk-up service, and for some reason, the Dystras' address didn't show up. 

      "I will clean it up for you right now," he said.

      Siggy said he's happy the city finally cleaned up his garbage. 

      "Now we have a nice clean driveway," he said. "It's amazing!"

      "We are aware of a delay in service to a few walk-up residents as they may have been missed in our transition period from the old to the new contract," a spokesperson for the city said in a statement emailed Friday. 

      "We apologize for the delay and appreciate their patience.

      "The public service has reached out to this resident to ensure that collection is happening on schedule and to address any additional concerns they may have."

      The statement also said walk-up service has been a challenge under the new contracts, but the city hopes it has fixed the bugs and expects improved service in the future.