Gibsons to consider joint waste RFP next month, plastic bag ban next year

Waste Services

Gibsons council is expected to decide next month whether to join Sechelt, the shíshálh Nation, and the Sunshine Coast Regional District in a joint request for proposals on solid waste and organics pickup. 

But council won’t be ready to look at another waste and recycling related issue – a ban on plastic straws and single-use plastic bags – until early 2019.

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The Town’s current contracts with Grayco Ventures for garbage and organics collection expire Feb. 28, 2019.

In a written report prepared for the July 24 council meeting, director of finance David Douglas said although the contracts could be extended for another year, “going out to tender this year may have some advantages as the Town has been informed that the other four local governments on the Sunshine Coast have expiring contracts and are interested in collaborating in an RFP (request for proposals) process this year … in an effort to attract more bidders and reduce the collection costs for the four governments.”

Douglas’s report also notes that although it would be a joint RFP, each jurisdiction “would have a different scope of work and in the end each government would have separate contracts with the successful bidder.” Douglas said the Town would draft a scope of work that calls for the same service as its currently getting with garbage pickup every other week and organics weekly.

Councillors said they were satisfied with the service Grayco has been providing, but also felt it was important to see what other bids might come out of a joint RFP.  However, they weren’t ready to authorize Town staff to start drafting the RFP.

“This looks like fiscal responsibility and regional cooperation to me,” Coun. Jeremy Valeriote said. “It’s long overdue. There’s always a balance. We have to be mindful of getting our biggest purchasing power versus knocking some of the smaller local operators out of contention. I’m not really sure how to deal with that but I think an open competitive process makes sense.”

Deputy mayor Silas White said he wants to ensure the Town isn’t locked into a deal that makes it hard to adjust to possible changes coming to the allowable items at the landfill, Recycle BC programs, and other factors that could change the type of service the Town needs. “I’m just generally concerned with maintaining our flexibility, which I’m hearing from councillors here too … but I also completely support trying to work with other governments,” he said.

The joint RFP option will come back to council in September.

A report on a possible ban on plastic straws and single-use bags, however, will take more time.

White put forward a motion at the July 24 meeting that, “by the end of 2019, council be presented with a staff report on how the cities of Vancouver and Victoria are approaching their plastic bag, plastic straw and single-use items bans, and whether these approaches may be viable in the Town of Gibsons.”

Valeriote said he supported the idea, but thought at first the 2019 deadline might have been a typo. “We’ve finally got our organics program in place [and I’m] just wondering whether there’s an opportunity to tighten this up a little bit, as it has so much momentum right now,” he said. “Maybe we could look at mid-2019 so we’re not losing another six months of plastic in the ocean.”

White conceded with a laugh that “it in fact might have been a typo” in the pre-written notice of motion, but said he wasn’t sure if getting a report by the end of 2018 would be practical.

Coun. Stafford Lumley said he didn’t think it was. “Maybe 2018 might be a little bit rushed with the election … but I’d certainly be interested in getting it about halfway through [next] year.” 

Chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado said staff could deliver the report in the first quarter of 2019, which would allow for any spending associated with a ban to be included in the budget discussions.

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