At its July 22 regular meeting Terrace council voted to “accept the contract to provide the service of residential packaging and printed paper supply under MMBC’s Stewardship Plan.”
The vote was unanimous with councillor Brian Downie absent.
It is a decision I fear city taxpayers will come to regret.
Just to briefly recap, MMBC is the Multi-Material BC program intended to have materials such as paper products, cardboard and plastics – except plastic bottles –collected separately from the rest of household garbage and delivered to a sorting depot operated by MMBC.
Under the system adopted by Terrace, the collection of ordinary garbage would go from the current once a week to twice a week with the recyclables, as defined by MMBC, collected on the alternating weeks.
Unlike a blue box system, residents would not have to sort the recyclables. They would simply chuck them into a special bag and the sorting would be handled by the depot.
So what’s wrong with that?
It’s the math that troubles me.
The city estimates it will receive $134,000 per year from MMBC for doing the collection – note well this is an estimate only, not a rock solid guarantee.
But pegs the cost in the first year of the program at $144,000, a negative $10,000 difference.
(In future years, the cost is estimated to be $131,000, a hair’s breadth less than the estimated revenue.)
Now the city will argue that it calculates it will save $81,000 a year under the new system.
I am puzzled by that claim. Under the existing system a garbage truck turns up at the end of my driveway once a week, every week.
And under the new system, a garbage truck will turn up at the end of my driveway once a week, every week.
So where’s the saving?
It must come from the fact that every second week the city is being paid to do the collection by MMBC.
But if the city is being paid $134,000 per annum by MMBC, why are the savings only $81,000?
You see my problem.
And I am not the only one.
Kitimat council invited waste management specialists from within its community to outline what they thought of the new system being offered to Kitimat residents.
They included Norm DeLong from Kitimat Valley Disposal – Kitimat garbage collection is handled by a private contractor.
After detailing the “hidden” costs that substantially reduced the “revenue” from MMBC, DeLong gave his verdict: “There’s no way I would bid on it…honestly I wouldn’t want it.”
Of course his is a private company so if the numbers go south he has to eat the loss.
Whereas the City of Terrace simply has to hike taxes.
We shall see what we shall see.
Retired editor of The Northern Sentinel in Kitimat, Malcolm Baxter now calls Terrace home.