Grand Forks city council slows down it's move to take over garbage services

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
December 24th, 2009

Grand Forks city council is cooling its heels over the creation of a new garbage service after public input and complications in service transfers put the brakes on their plans. At their council meeting on Monday Dec. 21, Mayor Brian Taylor announced the decision to rethink the proposed new services.

City staff has been directed to enter into a negotiation with the Alpine Group to extend their contract for an indefinite period. Taylor said that their direction is to develop a short-term agreement with Alpine that would allow the staff and council to review and further develop the option to move the garbage services in-house.

“We don’t feel that we’ve really put forward a strong enough argument on our side as to why we wanted to control this within the city,” said Taylor. “This will give us additional time to invite community input and to deal with some of the critical issues that have been brought forward. Thanks to the community for all of the input that we got.”

Taylor said they need to go back and develop a proposal to be able to address the community’s needs for recycling and waste disposal. Currently, recycling is done as a joint contract with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and uses Alpine’s services for the program. This arrangement was one of the stumbling blocks that the city came up against in their planning along with comments from residents about the proposed system.

“I want to thank the citizens for coming forward and saying, hey, there’s some problems with this. I think you have a council here that’s listening, and we’re going to go back and re-tool, and we’re going to try and make a win-win here,” said Councillor Gene Robert.

Councillor Christine Thompson echoed the other members of council and added that perhaps they had moved too quickly in their decision.

“From my personal perspective, I used to tell my children that fastest isn’t best, and I reacted fast and maybe not with the best interests of our community. I personally am very supportive of the concept, but I appreciate the citizens who have come forward – we are listening, we have heard you and we’ll do a better job at communicating in the future,” said Thompson.

Councillor Chris Moslin pointed out that council only gets to review waste management every five years and this was the opportunity to take some action. Moslin confirmed that the council will continue to explore the option to bring the service in-house in order to provide the best service possible.

“During my first term in office, there were many problems with (the service), problems that persist. Basically, the strategic plan of this council was to beautify this city, and to better manage the waste stream to the benefit of all citizens. We think that we can do that best with a municipal waste service,” said Moslin. “Perhaps council made a mistake in thinking that a three-bin system would resolve all the problems. What we did think is that a municipal system could be tailored to the needs of our community and be responsive.”

Categories: Politics