By ROY WOOD
Oliver taxpayers will see their annual waste collection bills jump by five dollars a year for seven years following a recalculation presented to town council Tuesday.
A divided council voted to stick with an earlier decision to switch to a cart-based garbage and recycling system despite revelations from chief financial officer Devon Wannop that earlier cost estimates were considerably understated.
The initial information council received from the administration was that changing from manual to an automated system could be done with no increase in cost to property owners.
On Tuesday, council was offered four financing options for waste collection. They included varying combinations of fee increases and taking money out of the town’s so-called “solid waste reserve fund.”
The option council chose will see annual fees increase from $110 to $145 by the end of the collection contract in 2025. The reserve fund will drop from $356,000 to $177,000 over the contract.
The town is in negotiations with Waste Collections of Canada (WCC, formerly BFI Canada Inc.) for new seven-year contract starting next summer.
Positions of council members didn’t change from the vote two weeks ago. Mayor Ron Hovanes and Councillors Mo Doerr and Larry Schwartzenberger voted in favour. Councillor Petra Veintimilla was the sole voice against the change.
Hovanes pointed out that workplace safety issues might well mandate a switch to automated collection in the future.
Schwartzenberger argued that the increase in fees will be largely offset by no longer having to buy recycling and garden waste bags. As well, he said, “This is the way the industry is going.”
Doerr said the town is “looking to the future and being pro-active.”
Veintimilla said she “didn’t think it was necessary to change when it was the same price … it’s change just for the sake of it.”
Starting in July 2018, homeowners will be provided with wheeled containers for their refuse: one for garbage; one for recycling; and one for garden waste. The carts are designed to be left near the roadway so that a truck with a lifting device can mechanically collect the contents.
Penticton has been using carts for about a year. Summerland, which will share a truck with Oliver, decided two weeks ago that it will also employ the system. Osoyoos, Keremeos and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will retain the old-fashioned manual system.