Moose Jaw city council's decision to delay city-wide front curbside waste collection is expected to be costly.
Monday night, in a 4-3 vote, Councillor Don Mitchell's motion to phase-in the move to bi-weekly, front curbside waste collection for all residents was approved (In addition to Mitchell, councillors Brian Swanson, Scott McMann and Chris Warren voted in favour).
A new residential collection schedule was part of a proposed Waste Management Bylaw for the city, which was discussed during 2017 civic budget deliberations. The bylaw, which was passed along with Councillor Mitchell's amendment, removes waste collection from the Engineering umbrella and becomes its own entity, along with a $6.57 monthly charge to residents.
Garbage will now be picked up every other week, as opposed to the weekly collection residents have traditionally received.
The bylaw originally had the new, bi-weekly front service slated to begin July 1, 2017. However, because of delays in getting the bylaw approved, City Administration suggested rolling the program out in August.
Arguing that affected residents, especially those that live on narrow streets, have concerns and should be consulted, Mitchell's motion allows for a phase-in of the service. Areas 1 and 2 will begin in August, areas 3 and 4 in September, and area 5 in October.
City manager Matt Noble says that will greatly affect the financial picture, reducing what would have been about $425,000 in savings had the entire city started July 1 as originally intended.
"We're going to lose in the neighbourhood of $100,000-$300,000 depending upon the timing," he said, frustrated by the notion that the approved motion will make a significant impact.
"There's no way we're going to come to consensus on how this program can be rolled out," he continued. "We have trouble getting a majority of council to agree after months of consideration, so you can imagine how consulting with thousands of customers will result, (as we try to find) a program everybody likes."
Noble says that Administration had already begun planning for the change, with crews doing their own investigations into areas thay may prove troublesome. In fact, at Monday night's council Meeting, he acknowledged that there was about "15 per cent" of residents in area 5 that may or may not be able to receive front pickup due to their location.
"Some of the complaints we received already, we investigated them," Noble explained, adding that councillors may be hearing complaints that aren't necessarily telling the whole story. "We've had complaints from people who are perfect candidates for front street pickup, they just don't want to change."
Now that the decision has been made, Noble says Administration is working on a new plan to notify customers.
"We have a vague reference as to how to do it, so we'll be reviewing our communications strategy on this issue."
"People aren't going to like this," he added flatly. "It's a difficult choice, but a difficult choice driven by fiscal challenges."