Food scraps are dumped into a green bin for composting. (Black Press file)

Whitehorse compost contract comes in costlier than expected

‘I would have a hard time putting my hand up to do this right now’

Composting is pricier than city staff had anticipated, but it’s a critical component of the city’s waste removal plan.

That’s what Jeff Quinsey, manager of water and waste for the City of Whitehorse, told council during the standing committees meeting on July 3. Quinsey asked council to increase the 2018 to 2020 operating budget to cover the cost of the program.

The program, which aims to increase composting among food service businesses and multi-family buildings, began as a pilot project in 2013-14. More than 100 businesses have voluntarily participated since then.

Beginning in 2019, the program will be mandatory for commercial food producers, and then for multi-family buildings with five or more units beginning in 2020.

Quinsey said the existing contract for compost pick-up expired in June.

He said the city issued a request for tenders for collection services for the next three years. That process closed on June 7. The city received one compliant submission, from General Waste Management, at an estimated value of nearly $316,000.

That’s higher than the city had budgeted for the service. Quinsey asked council to amend the operating budget for the next three years by $3,900 in 2018, $72,000 in 2019 and $84,000 in 2020. He called the contract “critical” to the compost program.

Coun. Dan Boyd said he was “shocked and concerned” to hear of the cost, and the fact there was only one bid for the contract.

“That’s hardly competitive in my mind.… We are more than double, probably two and a half times what we budgeted for,” he said.

“I’m not sure what choices we have, but I tell you if I was asked to raise my hand tonight, I would have a hard time putting my hand up to do this right now.”

Though the service will be mandatory beginning in 2019, businesses can opt to have compost removed by a waste removal service other than that offered by the city. Boyd wondered if the city would be financially vulnerable in the event that the actual number of businesses using city waste removal is lower than administration has estimated.

Quinsey said the lowest estimate is 25 businesses.

“There is a possibility wherein we would have fewer than 25,” said Quinsey. “The provisions for negotiating a fee (with General Waste Management) in that case are not directly addressed (in the contract). We would have to negotiate that directly with the contractor,” he said.

However, Quinsey said administration is confident in its staffing, budgeting and fee structure, which includes a per-pickup cost that will increase to $86 from $75 between 2018 and 2021.

“Starting in 2019, we will adjust fees and charges so that the recipients of the service will be paying for the new rate,” he said.

The issue will come back for a vote on July 9.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Judge orders eviction of Kopper King trailer over drug activity after SCAN investigation

Justice Suzanne Duncan issued the order March 22. The trailer will be closed off for 90 days

Whitehorse’s Etienne Geoffroy-Gagnon is making a splash on the slopestyle World Cup

The Yukoner is 20th in the world after skiing his way into a full season of starts

EDITORIAL: Yukon is not immune to a measles outbreak

With confirmed cases around Canada, the Yukon can’t be complacent

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

YEC challenges regulator over energy saving initiatives

‘We think we’re pretty well-equipped to deliver those programs effectively’

Yukon’s Ernest Chua wins pair of medals at Special Olympics World Games

Chua was the first Canadian to medal at the games

ANALYSIS: Yukon’s job market by the numbers

At only 3.2 per cent, the Yukon has the lowest unemployment rate… Continue reading

Whitehorse RCMP investigating ‘sextortion’ scams

Whitehorse RCMP are investigating after two “sextortion” scams were recently reported to… Continue reading

Yukoner Ed Hopkins wins 2019 Iditarod rookie of the year

Hopkins was the top Canadian musher in the field, finishing 21st

Martine LeLevier repeats as Granger Grind champion

LeLevier won this year’s race with a time of seven hours, 57 minutes and 53 seconds

Driving with Jens: Spring forward with your clocks and vehicle

Each spring when you move your clocks ahead an hour for daylight… Continue reading

Commentary: Do endangered species endanger industries?

CPAWS Yukon campaigns coordinator Malkolm Boothroyd says the Yukon needs species at risk legislation

Yukonomist: Skookum versus Hygge

Back before Christmas, I wrote a column whinging that our wily winter-tourism… Continue reading

Most Read