Oak Bay residents keen on kitchen scrap pickup

Mayor Jensen wants to expand CRD's pilot program to region

St. Michaels University School student Lindon Carter and his family live in one of the 1

St. Michaels University School student Lindon Carter and his family live in one of the 1

While the region’s two largest municipalities have begun taking steps to add kitchen scrap disposal to their waste removal services, Oak Bay has quietly had its own program going for the past six years.

The CRD-led pilot project, which began in 2006, serves 1,200 Oak Bay homes on four of the municipality’s 10 garbage pickup routes.

Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen says it’s high time the program was expanded.

“It’s been very well received by all those people who’ve been on the pilot,” he said. “So it’s certainly my hope that we can make arrangements with the CRD to broaden the project to the whole community, and hopefully that will be something that we can look forward to in 2012.”

Phil Barnett, Oak Bay superintendent of public works, is also in favour of expansion, but cautioned that the municipality would require further resources to make it work.

“I think the taxpayers that are on the program now love it,” Barnett said.

“Oak Bay does like to recycle, and I know the rest of the municipality would want it, but it’s just a matter of it being worked out as to who’s going to pay for the totes and how much it’s going to cost.”

Oak Bay currently handles about two tonnes of kitchen waste per day, in addition to six to seven tonnes of garbage. A single truck manned by two employees handles organic waste pickup for the entire municipality. If kitchen scrap removal were offered to all residents, those resources would need to be doubled, said Barnett.

Both Saanich and Victoria are in the early stages of their kitchen waste disposal programs.

Saanich is set to begin a pilot project in April which will serve about 600 homes. The City of Victoria is soliciting public feedback on the matter via a mail-in survey.

The questionnaire outlines three different options for disposal, all of which include kitchen waste pickup. The resulting changes to the city’s current waste removal program will be implemented city-wide in 2013.

While Jensen sees kitchen waste pickup as a necessary municipal service, he’d prefer a regional strategy rather than the current piecemeal approach.

“I’m certainly in very much in favour of having a region-wide project of this nature. To have a patchwork where each community has its own little scrap pickup pilot project or service, I’m not sure (that) is the way to go.”

The Falkland Road home of Ron Carter and Lara Lauzon is one of those that has benefited from the kitchen scrap removal program.

“We had a compost bin outside, but this is so much handier because we only have so much space,” son Lindon Carter said as he emptied a bag of organic scraps into his family’s tote.

Oak Bay residents currently pay $211 per year for all solid waste services. That cost includes garbage pickup, compost cleanup, leaf removal and operation costs for the municipality’s recycling depot and compost centre.