Alderman wants recycling contracts open to private sector

robin kuniski/for metro calgary


Blair McCrady doesn’t want to have to make the trip to the recycling depot on a regular basis. He, like many other Calgarians, wants to see the city get moving on its curb-side recycling program, which is to be implemented in 2009.

Blair McCrady doesn’t care who picks up his recycling, he just wants it picked up on his curb.

The 33-year-old thinks more Calgarians would recycle if the service was offered and he doesn’t particularly care who picks it up.

"It would make it a lot easier," McCrady said. "Whether they pay somebody to do it or the city does it, it doesn’t really matter to me."

Rachel Devchand, 29, agrees, adding it’s become a tremendous pain in her posterior to house all the miscellaneous recyclables long enough to make a trip to a depot worthwhile.

"As a parent without having someone else at home, other than myself, it would definitely be worth it to have curb-side," she said.

In an apparent attempt to prevent five private curb-side recycling companies from going out of business, Ward 3 Alderman Jim Stevenson will table a motion for city council’s consideration today, arguing private sector participation is essential as Calgary moves towards citywide pickup.

"If this whole thing went public, it would put some people out of business," he said. "Now whether or not those companies would bid on this, I don’t know, but I’d at least like to put that option out there."

Stevenson said his proposal to split the city north of 16 Ave N into five quadrants for private recycling tender, servicing some 100,000 people, wouldn’t delay the expected 2009 start of curb-side pickup and wouldn’t act as corporate welfare.

Stevenson said he’d like to see the city’s north-end collection operate for five years, just as the south portion, in order to balance and evaluate the costs associated with each sector.

The city’s initial plan was to service 300,000 Calgarians at a cost of $8 per household each month, providing blue recycling containers to eliminate the need for individual sorting and transfer. A five-year collection contract worth $10.98 million a year had been awarded to W&RS, a private-sector processing contract was awarded to Metro and $17 million was committed by the city for trucks to collect the material.

And while Stevenson said he’s sure he has seven of the eight votes needed for his motion to pass, he’s not sure where he’ll scrape up the balance-tipping support.

"It should be interesting to see how it all plays out," he said.

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