The City of St. John’s may adopt an idea from Mount Pearl in the near future: an idea of how to collect garbage more safely.
At a regular meeting of St. John’s council Monday, the possibility of bringing automated arm garbage trucks into the capital, as was done in the city of Mount Pearl last year, was discussed.
Such trucks are also in use in many other larger municipalities in North America.
The specialized garbage truck turns the job of garbage collection into a hands-free one, whereby an automated arm on the truck ext-ends and grabs onto specialized bins.
The idea of bringing such a system to the residents of St. John’s had been discussed at a meeting of the public works and environment standing committee.
Coun. Wally Collins brought the findings of that meeting to council chambers Monday.
The main reason for bringing in such a method is safety, he said. The hands-free approach is safer than having city workers handling garbage. Last summer, a city worker suffered a severe cut from a piece of glass inside a garbage bag.
Collins said there are a lot of considerations that have to be taken into account before it’s decided if it’s a good method of garbage collection for the capital city. Old St. John’s has a lot of narrow, steep hills that could make navigating such a vehicle impossible. There’s also the issue of on-road parking in the downtown and parts of the city’s centre.
In Mount Pearl, the garbage bins are left at the ends of driveways. The truck pulls up and the arm grabs the bin. It was listed in the meeting agenda that this would be quite difficult in the densely populated areas of downtown where people don’t have driveways and must park on the roads.
Coun. Frank Galgay, who represents Ward 2, which includes the downtown, made it clear during the meeting that large portions of his area would have to be exempt.
“This would not be an appropriate means of collecting garbage in those particular areas,” said Galgay.
The cost of such a collection method was also discussed.
The estimated cost of bringing the project to the streets of St. John’s would involve a Phase 1 of outfitting collection trucks and purchasing a number of the garbage carts for a total of $1,240,000, and a further $3,665,000 in Phase 2 to buy the remainder of the carts.
In Mount Pearl, the specialized bins are provided for residents free of charge. The city then owns the garbage cart, but the resident is responsible for its care. Each cart has a number that makes it easily tracked should it get lost or stolen.
Galgay stressed that taxpayers should not have to pay anything extra for the new garbage collection method to be brought in. Coun. Gerry Colbert also raised the point that the city had just been through something of a change in garbage collection method that did cost the taxpayers.
“We just put the taxpayers of St. John’s through the expense of buying these nets,” he said, referring to the nets required to cover garbage for part of the year.
Coun. Sandy Hickman said he saw this as moving onto the next stage of cleaner, safer garbage collection.
“We went to the nets and now we’re going to the next stage,” said Hickman.
Collins said it was something they would look at further later in the year.
“We’re going to look at it, but we need a lot more information.”