Some St. John's neighbourhoods easier than others for automated garbage collection

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Some St. John's neighbourhoods easier than others for automated garbage collection

The City of St. John's is hoping to start rolling out robotic garbage collection next year, but one councillor says there are still some kinks to work out.

Coun. Danny Breen said council will start public consultations, to be finished hopefully by the end of May, to hear about the city's unique challenges.

Mainly, the downtown area poses some problems.

"There's certainly the storage of the bins in some of the rowhouse areas and the higher-density areas could be an issue, the ability to manipulate the bins down there," said Breen.

He said the city also has to consider people with disabilities or challenges that may have "unique and special circumstances."

Not being the first community in the area to roll out automated garbage collection has its advantage, Breen added, since St. John's can learn from best practices elsewhere.

Changing bag limits

The public consultations will help decide what size bin the city should opt for: a 240-litre bin that holds four to six bags of garbage, or a larger one that holds up to eight bags.

Those smaller bins would cost about $2.9 million to outfit the entire city, while the larger ones cost about $3.8 million.

Currently, households can put up to 10 bags of garbage out per week. That limit will change with the bin size, falling in line with the city's waste diversion plan.

"Other municipalities have added a waste collection fee onto the tax bill, anywhere from $20 to $25 I think in Mount Pearl, Paradise. Council hasn't made that decision yet," Breen told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

No job cuts expected

The bins will help get rid of nets and other "unsightly" items used to cover garbage bags and deter birds and rodents — methods Breen said are obviously ineffective.

As for savings and efficiencies, Breen said the new automated system will be cheaper and less risky for sanitation workers, but there are no job cuts on the horizon.

"An average operator would haul between 2,100 and 3,000 bags of garbage a day so certainly in the winter there's risk of slip and fall injuries and other occupational health and safety concerns, so we expect some efficiencies there."

Breen said new trucks, outfitted with the arms for automated garbage collection, are already on order.