Penticton council approves blue box exchange

Penticton residents can exchange their blue boxes for carts that can hold four times as much recycling

BFI, which handles waste collection services for Penticton, was back before council last week, once more asking council to help them reduce the number of blue recycling boxes in use byPentictonites.

In April, the company offered to make a bargain with the City of Penticton, offering an extra yard waste pickup day — worth $6,050 — in exchange for the city eliminating the blue boxes in favour of the blue bags or a cart residents can rent from the company.

About 65 per cent of homes are still using the blue boxes, but BFI would like to reduce the number of blue boxes being used, which they say are causing strain injuries for their employees. However, council felt that either bags or carts would be an expensive burden for residents.

BFI is now proposing a voluntary exchange program, swapping blue boxes for a recycle cart.

“That cart holds about four times as much recycling as the current blue box,” said Len Robson, public works manager. He added that there will be no charge to the City of Penticton or the residents in this exchange, and BFI will honour it until the current contract expires, on June 30, 2016.

Robson said he has been advised by BFI that the industry is moving to a mechanized collection system, and that indications are that when the next contract comes up, blue boxes will not be an option, and mechanized collection will be the base model.

Acting mayor Garry Litke said he received some heat for his comments at the April council meeting, which he felt were misconstrued that he didn’t care about the injuries to BFI workers.

“I was concerned about the safety of workers. The point that I was making was that it was not the taxpayers’ responsibility,” said Litke, noting that BFI is a private contractor.

Taxpayers, he felt, should not be on the hook to purchase either the expensive blue bags or carts, and in April had suggested BFI offer to exchange a certain number of blue bags for the blue boxes.

“This is even better, so it stands the company in good stead and raises them in my estimation,”Litke said, before council voted unanimously to support BFI’s exchange program.

In a separate motion, council also approved an additional yard waste collection day at a cost of $6,050, extending the collection period by two weeks into December.

“If we end up with an early frost that stays with us, it’s not an issue. Everything falls off the trees and people can get their yard waste in their bags by the end of November,” said Robson, explaining that isn’t the usual situation. “Usually around the first two weeks of December, we get complaints and or requests from the public asking us to consider extending the yard waste collection.”