Organics back on city’s table

Public will vote on preferred waste collection option

Organics collection must be on the list of options up for discussion as the City of Victoria reviews the way it deals with municipal waste.

This was the message from city council, as it rejected city staff’s warning against the idea.

The Capital Regional District intends to launch region-wide organics collection in 2013.

Doing it at the city level would cost each household $16 more annually, and would present more financial risk to the city rather than the region, said staff.

But council has no appetite to see if the once-delayed regional initiative will move forward as planned.

“There is a perception that there is not a strong support for organics collection at the CRD as a whole,” said Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin. “Secondly, there’s going to be huge controversy about the delivery system if we go to the CRD model. Is it private? Is it public?”

For that reason, Fortin said, “Victoria would like to see the cost of doing a pilot much like Oak Bay and View Royal. … We’ve decided residents will make the choice of which service they would like and so we wanted to make sure that residents will have all the information they need to make that selection.”

Collectively, Oak Bay and View Royal divert 450 tonnes of waste from the landfill each year through their municipal organics collection programs.

Should Victoria jump on board, the CRD estimates it would divert an additional 2,200 tonnes of organic waste annually, said solid waste planner Anke Bergner. “It would lengthen the life of the landfill,” she said, adding Hartland landfill is currently estimated to fill to capacity by 2035.

“We get about 140,000 tonnes of waste a year,” she said. Thirty per cent of that is organic waste.

Another benefit to collecting organic waste is making use of a valuable resource, she said. “The organics can be processed into compost and used as a soil amendment.”

Beyond possible organics collection, however, the City of Victoria is also debating its trash collection system.

The overhaul has been prompted by the need to replace its aging garbage trucks.

Council wants three clear options to bring to the public for their vote.

While they’ve yet to be pinned down, they will likely include the following: weekly backyard garbage pickup similar to what is done now; garbage pickup every two weeks; or garbage and organics collection on alternating weeks.

Voting could be through some form of mail-in ballot sent along with the utility bills, said Fortin. While a referendum isn’t being considered, some form of online voting could be, he added.