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article imageOp-Ed: Winnipeg trash removal contractor faces up to $400,000 in fines

By Ken Hanly     Jan 7, 2013 in Business
Winnipeg - Emterra, the company contracted by the city of Winnipeg to collect residential garbage, is facing fines of $350,000 to $400,000 for poor service during the month of November alone.
Councillor Dan Vandal, chair of the infrastructure and public works committee says he has finally received rough numbers about the fines. Earlier, administrators had come under fire for not providing information to the councillors.
Emterra just began to collect most city waste back in October. Since that time the city has been plagued by thousands of complaints of missed pickups. An appended video shows one such case.
The city had warned Emterra that it would be fined $100 for every home it misses garbage or recycling pickups starting on November 1 last year. Given the estimated range of fines, they must have missed quite a few pickups.
The councillors had been hoping to get exact numbers but that seems not be possible if Emterra does not want the figures revealed. Michael Jack,. the city head of legal services said that Manitoba's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act prevents city administrators from revealing the figures unless Emterra granted permission. Guess what? Emterra would not grant permission. IMHO the act needs to be amended so that it is not used by companies to prevent authorities from receiving information they should surely be able to have. The councillors pointed out that they needed to know the amounts of fines as the revenue could have an impact on budget decisions. Vandal complained that city administrators needed to be more open about giving councillors information they need.
Councillor Harvey Smith wants to see the city contract with Emterra. He said the contract should be made available to all councillors.
Vandal told reporters:"If we're not seeing the standards that we had before reached within a reasonable period of time, after the month's grace, then we'll look at other options."
Mayor Sam Katz actually went out and collected uncollected cardboard from a recycling bin after a citizen phoned a radio station to complain. See the featured video. Katz said that city lawyers are looking at options: "Maybe we should start looking at giving part of that collection to another contractor, so that they would have less part of the city and they can focus on getting that job done in a prompt manner." Emterra has divisions in three different provinces.
Contracting out rather than in-house operation of trash collection is all the fashion now. It provides entrepreneurs new opportunities to make money in the public sector but often saves little or no money and reduces services. However it does serve the interests of capital.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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