Thousands of residents in Nelson, B.C., have had to keep their garbage at home for three weeks as the city suspends its waste pickup services due to heavy snow.
On Tuesday, the city — home to over 10,000 residents — announced it had to cancel its scheduled residential garbage and recyclables pickup service this week so city staff can focus on clearing heavy snow on roads, sidewalks and stairs.
The city collects residential garbage once every two weeks except during the holidays, with the last pickup occurring in the week of Dec. 13-17.
The city's deputy chief administrative officer, Colin McClure, says with as much as 80 centimetres of snow in the city since the holidays, many roads and alleys have become unpassable for waste pickup trucks.
"It's also a safety issue for our crew, so [we] made a difficult decision to suspend garbage [and] recycling," McClure said Wednesday to host Chris Walker on CBC's Daybreak South.
In the interim, the city has placed a large metal bin across the Nelson Airport hangars at 90 Lakeside Drive. Residents can deposit their tagged garbage bags until 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8, and on Monday, Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The bin will be locked overnight.
The city also asks residents to take their recyclables to the two depots operated by the Regional District of Central Kootenay at 70 Lakeside Drive and 1201 Insight Drive.
Coun. Keith Page says his household doesn't have a garbage pileup as it's part of the regional district's pilot program to use an in-home appliance to mash and dehydrate organic waste.
But he says he can imagine how the majority of Nelson residents, who aren't part of the program, have had to bear with the putrid smell of food scraps that the city is unable to collect. He adds that seniors who don't drive are particularly vulnerable as they cannot easily access the garbage collection bin.
"There are seniors [who], for all sorts of different reasons, don't have cars and so it is not a walkable location in any way, shape or form," Page said. "It would be difficult to use public transit — it's possible, but it's not practical."
Tami Turner, site leader of Park Place Seniors Living, and Jerry Bell, manager of the seniors living complex Kiwanis, say they hire private contractors to collect residential garbage from their facilities.
Page says city staff have been working hard to empty the garbage dumped in the metal bin. "The goal is to get your stuff down in the next couple of days and get it out of the way," he said.
The city's next garbage collection is scheduled for the week of Jan. 17-21.