Ottawa

City seeking redress as west end garbage woes pile up

West Ottawa residents whose garbage and recycling has been sitting at the curb for days awaiting pickup should soon get some relief, the city is promising.

Waste Management's collection contract to end June 2020

Garbage and recycling sits in front of a home on Chimo Drive in Kanata in July, awaiting collection. City councillors say the problem has persisted, and want the company responsible, Waste Management, held accountable. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

West Ottawa residents whose garbage and recycling has been sitting at the curb for days awaiting pickup should soon get some relief, the city is promising.

"We're doing everything humanly possible to ensure that service gets respectable again. We're throwing everything we have at it," pledged Kevin Wylie, the city's general manager of public works, on Wednesday.

People living in Bay ward, Kanata, Stittsville and the city's rural west end began complaining in June that Waste Management, the company contracted to pick up curbside waste in those neighbourhoods, was falling behind. 

In July, the company blamed a "catastrophic" fire that destroyed eight of its trucks, and asked residents to be patient.

The problem appears to have grown worse, however, and the city has already decided the company's contract won't be renewed next June. On Wednesday, city council approved awarding the contract instead to Miller Waste Systems.

Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Allan Hubley had harsh words Wednesday for Waste Management, the company contracted to pick up curbside waste in several city neighbourhoods. 1:11

Councillors fed up

Councillors were clearly fed up, and demanded to know how the city plans to get Waste Management to pick up the pace. 

"When people start asking you, 'Can I get a deduction on my taxes because you didn't pick up my garbage?' then we've got an issue. We've got a problem," said Bay ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh.

Are we going to go through this from now until June? Because it's unacceptable.- Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley

Some councillors asked how the city can continue charging residents an $88 solid waste collection fee when it's not providing reliable service.

Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley said garbage bins left out last Thursday were still sitting at the curb on Tuesday.

"What's the plan here? Are we going to go through this from now until June? Because it's unacceptable," he asked staff.

Employees with the city's roads and water departments are being pulled back to operate garbage trucks, Wylie said. Meanwhile, smaller collection trucks used to empty trash bins in parks are being deployed, and the city is looking to waste companies outside Ottawa for temporary help.

Kevin Wylie is general manager of public works and environmental service for the City of Ottawa. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Make company pay, mayor says

Still, Mayor Jim Watson said it's up to Waste Management to live up to its contract with the city, and said taxpayers shouldn't be footing the bill for the emergency help.

"This should all be charged back to Waste Management because they have clearly dropped the ball on a number of routes," Watson said.

Wylie suggested Waste Management may also be asked to transfer the contract to Miller Waste before the June handover.

CBC attempted to reach Waste Management for comment on Wednesday, but was unsuccessful.

Councillors on the city's environment committee are hoping to hold the company to account when they meet on Tuesday, and are hoping company representatives will attend.

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