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Snow, combined with holiday excess equals more county garbage delays

You thought it was over?
garbage dump

Memories of garbage reeking curbside in the summer, combined with heavy snowfalls, have Simcoe County councillors rethinking they county's waste contract.

Rising faster than the snow banks, county councillors’ frustrations prompted Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer to suggest the county have its staff help Progressive Waste Solutions – and then bill them for it. The idea will be discussed in two weeks.

“This has been an extreme winter and the timing has been terrible. We’ve had terrible weather combined with extra waste from the holidays. There’s a snowball effect,” said Debbie Korolnek, the county’s engineering, environment and planning general manager.

The county’s contractor, Progressive Waste Solutions, struggled throughout the summer to keep up with the performance standards in the county’s contract, which is costing taxpayers approximately $200 million over seven years. It expires in 2020.

It does include non-performance penalties.

These penalties would be applied after recent garbage day struggles, the first ones of 2017. Last week, the county had to extend collection into the late evening Thursday in Innisfil and delay collection in other areas of Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Springwater.

“Last Saturday, Progressive brought in drivers from Peel and we had 42 trucks on,” said Korolnek, adding the extra volume slowed collection because trucks filled faster and had to go to the landfill more often and return to the route.

“People are less patient than usual because we had issues in the summer,” she added, noting local politicians, who don’t let snowy roads stop them from getting to meetings and doing their work, aren’t tolerating news of more collection delays because of overnight snow.

The ongoing struggle has become so routine, it has prompted the county to set up a waste collection delay notification service.

“If people sign up, they’ll be told when there’s a disruption and what it means, when to put out their garbage,” said Korolnek.

Go online to to find out more.

“You can be notified by email or by a phone call and we’ll tell you when there’s a service disruption.”

Now attributing its struggles to weather and holiday excess, Progressive attributed its poor performance last summer to staffing challenges. Progressive had lost some employees who sought higher wages elsewhere. There were also 18 injuries and as many as eight calling in sick, a July 15, 2016 letter from Progressive told the county.

Those staffing challenges made for a smelly summer, as garbage would spend days curbside, particularly in cottage areas where Monday collection was delayed.