White Rock council is looking into privatizing its solid waste and recycling services.

White Rock council is looking into privatizing its solid waste and recycling services.

Privatization to cost White Rock residents, businesses, union warns

Mike Guraliuk tells council that the price for waste collection will rise in the long run.

Changes to White Rock’s solid waste and recycling service will end up costing taxpayer’s more in the long run, Canadian Union of Public Employees’s (CUPE) 402-01 president told council this week.

Mike Guraliuk provided council with a package during his presentation at the Monday evening meeting, outlining possible issues that could arise if the city proceeds with its plan to contract out its solid waste and recycling services to private companies.

The city announced Jan. 6 that it will no longer oversee commercial and multifamily recycling and garbage collection. The decision to move to the private sector came from options laid out in White Rock’s Solid Waste Review Report in late 2014.

Acting chief administrative officer Tracey Arthur told Peace Arch News after the announcement that once a date has been set, businesses and multifamily units will be responsible for choosing their collection service.

“Because it’s being privatized, it’s not a contract per se, so the city won’t be involved,” Arthur said. “It would be up to individual businesses and the stratas to hire a private contractor. So, I’m thinking there may be many of them.”

As an exploratory measure, the city also issued a request for proposals on contracting out single-family home collection to review current operating costs and services, and determine how it compares to the private sector.

Guraliuk noted in his Jan. 26 presentation that the City of Port Moody returned to in-house garbage collection in 2009 after contracting out services due to service-related problems, which the union predicts for White Rock if privatization takes place.

“Contracting out has been suggested as best practice, but let’s be clear, it’s not. It’s a roller-coaster,” he said, noting that as often as local governments contract services out, they contract them back in.

“We recommend you continue offering these services publicly.”

He added that although a contract appears lower at first, after additional costs are added, the price will rise.

“You will need to negotiate a complex contract,” he said. “You’ll continue handling complaints, paying bylaw enforcement costs…, you’ll buy equipment for the contractor instead of for yourself, which is more expensive, and you’ll continue to pay WorkSafe costs carried by the contractor.”

When asked by council for specifics – including other cities that have returned to in-house services, studies on cities with a similar population as White Rock and statistics that show an increase in price – Guraliuk said he did not have the answers at hand.

“This information was provided to me, I did not do the study myself, so I could get you that information right away,” he said.  “I just came for the presentation, I don’t have the stats.”

Aside from finances, the biggest issue, Guraliuk said, is the human aspect. He noted the citizens of White Rock have reported a high level of satisfaction with the service offered by public employees.

“Many city workers live here and know the residents that they serve,” he said, noting that public employees act as ambassadors of the the city. “For many citizens we are the face of this local government.

“We know the citizens and they know us.”


Peace Arch News

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