Woodstock renegotiating solid waste collection agreement

by | Oct 2, 2023

Changes could mean a single policy for the entire town and quantity limits on regular waste

Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones sought input from council as town officials prepared to sit down with FERO and J.S. Bellis to negotiate changes to garbage pickup throughout all five Woodstock wards.

Residents outside Ward 4, the old town limits, who remain part of the deal negotiated by the Western Valley Regional Service Commission, noticed the difference in service over the summer. Many questioned why only Ward 4 residents enjoyed regular garbage collection during recycling weeks.

Mayor Jones explained the town responded to complaints from residents that waiting two weeks for regular garbage created a stench, especially during the hot summer months. The town and garbage collectors agreed to ensure regular trash pick up on recycling weeks during June, July and August.

While the current garbage contract will continue for a couple of years, Jones explained the town agreed, and the service provider agreed to renegotiate the existing agreement to include the entire town.

Representatives for the RSC will join the talks.

Jones explained that the town will seek ways to improve the deal, including cost certainty. She explained the current system, which puts no limits on the amount of regular waste, makes it challenging to budget waste collection costs.

Jones said to reduce costs on tipping fees and provide a better handle on budgeting, the town hopes to institute quantity limits. She explained that the town must ensure all residents have the same size bin to do that.

Jones said the town will study ways to make that happen, with the most obvious option being to supply bins in much the same manner it did with recycling bins.

When council originally addressed the solid waste issue, Jones asked councillors to gather feedback from residents in their respective wards.

Coun. Julie Calhoun-Williams said the most common response she heard was the need for more special pickup days.

Coun. Will Belyea said he’s heard several people asking how much of the recycling actually gets recycled and how much is diverted back to the landfill.

“There’s a sentiment out there that recycling is going to the landfill,” he said.

Jones said that is a question they can ask FERO and J.S. Bellis.

The mayor explained the town not only needs to make a workable deal with the solid waste collection teams, but it must also determine the town’s cost.

“Can we afford to provide everyone with the same size bins?” Jones asked.

She said that if the new agreement limits residents to a single bin, they hope to develop a method for homeowners to pay for additional waste if needed.

Jones cited the importance of informing the public of any changes.

“If we make a big change, we have to educate them,” she said.

The mayor said the town expected negotiations with J.S. Bellis and FERO to begin the last week of August.

Staff will inform council of the results at a later meeting. Council members will have the final decision on any changes.

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