Valley Waste and Recycling was loading garbage and recycling bins into Hope’s event bowl on May 2 in preparation for their start as the town’s waste-services provider. The company was awarded the contract on April 31, began helping out on May 2, and took over officially on June 1. Sarah Gawdin/Hope Standard

Garbagegate: ‘Definitely a mistake on our behalf,’ says Mayor Robb

Mayor apologizes for waste-disposal carrier lapse, promises District will do better in future

Although some kinks are still being worked out, Hope’s waste-disposal provider issue—for the most part—has been resolved, and Mayor Peter Robb says the District would like to apologize to the community for what’s now being called ‘garbagegate.’

“I have learned from this experience the hard way,” the mayor said. “We need to be more forth-coming with information as we’re allowed to, (and we need to) communicate sooner with the public for sure—that’s the main thing.”

On May 1, residents learned First Class Waste Disposal (FCWD), who’d been providing waste services in the community for almost a decade, would no longer be taking away Hope’s trash as of that day, and there was no solidified answer on who would be picking up the contract, or when that would happen.

RELATED: Pee-yew! Garbage becomes a problem as District lapses in providing waste-removal service coverage

“It is unfortunate that the residents and businesses of Hope have to be subjected to no service and a major disruption, but all efforts were exhausted trying to confirm who would be the service provider (come today),” wrote Don Mayhew Jr, FCWD’s president, in a letter sent to The Hope Standard on May 1.

On Dec. 31, FCWD’s contract with the District came to an end, yet the company continued to work on a month-by-month basis.

“We tried for a six-month extension, but First Class was not interested—they did not want to extend the contract, they wanted a” Request for Proposal (RFP), Robb explained.

As part of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), Hope will have to incorporate the FVRD’s new organics bylaw by April 2020, however, what that would entail wasn’t available in December, which is why Robb says the District wanted to extend the contract.

The organics bylaw requires differences in separation and pick-up than what’s in place now, and it also comes with an additional cost, which can be seen in the District’s waste-disposal budget increase.

With no other option, the District of Hope issued its RFP, which was closed to applications on April 1, and awarded on April 31.

This process, however, tied the District’s hands in terms of communication as they couldn’t speak outside of the RFP and risk confusion if there was no service provider change. “We couldn’t communicate during the process … (and) we didn’t want to be lambasted for providing the incorrect information,” Robb said.

“But the RFP process did take longer than we thought it would,” he continued. And considering the contract’s end date, “we should’ve started the process earlier, that’s for sure.

“That was definitely a mistake on our behalf, and we’re working with staff to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Staff doesn’t need more oversight, (Council needs to work) better planning for end dates on contracts … (because) staff follows our direction.”

That said, as of June 1, Valley Waste officially began its five-year contract as the District’s new waste-disposal proponent, however, the company stepped up in May to help fill the void.

“There wasn’t really a gap in service,” Robb noted, “it was just spread out further than normal. I appreciate (Valley Waste) helping out District staff and stepping up on such short notice. We couldn’t have done it without the two of them doing it together.”

Going forward, most things will remain the same, but Robb says there will be a few significant changes, such as “Hope will be divided into quadrants, which will allow for better service.” Instead of only having two days of service, the community will now have four, “and only two areas* of the District will have to switch days.”

RELATED: After last week’s disruption, everything’s back to normal, say District of Hope staff

Also, “anyone who wanted to stay was welcome to stay” employed in Hope’s waste-disposal sector, as the transfer station rehired its previous employees, and Valley hired a local truck driver familiar with the community’s routes.

“But the biggest change won’t be until September, which is when the new ‘toter’ system for organics separation and curbside glass collection will be rolled out.

“Valley Waste and Recycling will also be providing equipment and service displays at the upcoming chainsaw carving event and at Brigade days,” said the mayor. “The public is invited and they’re going to have hot dogs and stuff to give away.”

Information pertaining to the changes can also be found on the District’s website, their Facebook Page, in The Hope Standard—see District of Hope ad on Page 2—as well as the District is airing several daily ads on Star 98.3.

Robb also notes Valley Waste is planning on mailing an information sheet to all community residents in the near future, however, if people have any questions about their waste pick-up, they’re now being asked to speak directly to Valley at 604-792-6070.

*The two areas that are switching their garbage pick-up days are Silver Creek/Floods, and townsite south of CN rail and west of the Fraser River.

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