A last ditch effort to postpone plans by North Cowichan to begin transitioning this year to automated garbage collection by Coun. Bruce Findlay at the council meeting on March 1 was not successful.
Council voted to move forward with switching to automated garbage collection by 2025 at its meeting on Feb. 1, and the bylaw that will see garbage fees increase from $125 to $183 per household in 2023 as North Cowichan purchases four fully automated garbage trucks, with one being electric, was before council for its consideration at the meeting on March 1.
Findlay has been skeptical of the plan and he put forth a motion to try to postpone its implementation for one year.
He said North Cowichan taxpayers can’t afford such a significant increase to their garbage fees at this time.
“We’re looking at a 4.82 per cent increase in taxes this year and, while this is less than what many other municipalities are announcing, it’s not accurate when you consider that parcel taxes, recreation fees and these new garbage fees are also added,” Findlay said.
“This is a large increase for many homeowners and I think postponing this until 2024 is reasonable.”
Shawn Cator, North Cowichan’s director of operations, said there would be additional expenses if council decided to postpone the plan for a year.
He said it would cost more than $100,000 to continue leasing a garbage truck that is currently being used, and another $100,000 in maintenance costs would also have to be covered.
“As well, if we delayed, there’s the possibility that we may lose the $250,000 grant that is currently available for the electric garbage truck,” Cator said.
“We don’t know how long that grant will be available. Another thing to keep in mind is that the current trucks are getting older, so there’s a potential for break downs and service disruptions if we wait a year. These trucks need to be replaced as soon as possible.”
Coun. Chris Istace said that he’s also sensitive about the additional costs on taxpayers, but pointed out that the extra expense of garbage pick up in 2023 if the plan moves forward would be just $4.83 per household each month.
“We also do want to take advantage of that grant,” he added.
Coun. Christopher Justice thanked Findlay for trying to find ways to save taxpayers’ money.
“But staff are clear that the implications for delaying is such that it would defeat the purpose [by] delaying the plan,” he said.
“Delaying this would cost taxpayers more in the end.”
Findlay’s motion was defeated, with only him and Coun. Tek Manhas voting for it.
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