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Shiny new trucks harbingers of a new era for Whitehorse garbage

When the spring melts arrive, a gleaming line of brand new garbage packers will make their debut in Whitehorse’s alleys and streets.

When the spring melts arrive, a gleaming line of brand new garbage packers will make their debut in Whitehorse’s alleys and streets.

And thanks to some last-minute arrangements by city officials, the trucks will come in at $300,000 less than retail price.

The Whitehorse order for trucks came at the same time as a Calgary order for the same product. As a result, Whitehorse was given the same per-unit price as Calgary — a rarity for a customer that only orders one-10th as many trucks.

The final price tag stands at $824,865 — $275,000 per garbage packer.

The trucks represent the rejection of an earlier plan to bring in double-containered trucks that could handle garbage and compost in a single day, eliminating the need for weekly tradeoffs between the two waste types.

After inspections of the compost/garbage trucks in Calgary, city officials rejected the plan, saying the trucks weren’t “robust” enough.

“They’re a lot more complicated because they sort of have two of everything and you have to fit more hydraulics and electrical into one package, so they were having trouble with them,” said Brian Crist, Whitehorse director of operations.

Same-day pickup is still an option, but it would require the use of both garbage and compost trucks operating on the same day.

Counter-instinctively, the two-truck option is almost as efficient as the one truck, two compartment option.

The double-containered trucks fill up faster, requiring multiple trips to the landfill in one shift. The single-containered trucks need only one trip to the landfill, meaning a faster and more fuel efficient garbage pickup, said Crist.

“The larger the truck, the more efficient the pickup,” said Crist.

When the new trucks are ready for delivery, city officials or manufacturer representatives will road-trip the new trucks up from Calgary to Whitehorse.

The new additions to the fleet will be compatible with a new “green cart” initiative being implemented by the city.

Instead of trash and compost bags, Whitehorse residents will put their refuse in large, wheeled plastic carts.

The new trucks are equipped with hydraulic arms designed to lift the carts, “reducing back and shoulder strain for Public Works employees, and making it safer by avoiding problems with broken glass, needles and spillage,” according to a city report issued in May.

And since the hydraulic arm method of garbage collection is fully automated, the driver does not need to leave his seat — resulting in faster garbage collection.

The purchase will replace two Whitehorse garbage packers purchased in 2000, as well as a spare truck purchased in 1990.

“Continuing to use these units will require increasing operations and maintenance costs to repair and maintain,” said a city report.

Crist guesses that the trucks may end up spending their retirement in the Yukon communities, but there are no definite plans yet.