Looking for solutions to the commercial garbage pickup challenges in Nordegg.
The future of commercial garbage collection in Nordegg has been uncertain since the dissolution of the Rocky Mountain Regional Solid Waste Authority in late 2020. The service has continued on a somewhat regular basis (weekly through the summer but a more irregular schedule during the winter months) without charges for local businesses or the Nordegg Community Association. We’ve been informed, unofficially, that the service will be discontinued this fall as a result of decisions made by the previous council.
The Nordegg Community Association was informed in the spring of 2021 that they would need to find a private operator to ensure that the public garbage dumpsters could continue to be picked up. They, along with local businesses, reached out to numerous service providers to find out which options may be available. Most providers indicated that they could not offer the service either due to their limited capacity to expand to a new area or the insufficient number of businesses currently based in Nordegg. Some indicated that they may be able to service Nordegg if all existing businesses signed up for the same service frequency, at a cost that would be more than double what was charged by the waste authority and what is being charged elsewhere in Clearwater County by private service providers. The current operations at the waste transfer station are not designed for tourism operations, making this a poor alternative to the commercial garbage collection service.
The loss of service will have a negative impact on existing businesses, will be a setback for the visitor experience since the public dumpster program offered by the NCA would not be feasible, and will make the development of the new commercial lots more challenging.
- We will be reaching out to the businesses and the Nordegg Community Association between now and October 18 to determine how many are interested.
- We will then continue the conversation with Councillor Ratcliffe and Jerry Pratt, Clearwater County’s Economic Development Officer, to determine the best way forward.
Clearwater County is currently developing a Solid Waste Management Master Plan. A survey that was conducted by Tetra Tech Canada in the spring of 2022 did not include any questions about the need for commercial waste disposal in Nordegg so it’s unclear if a solution is already in the works as part of this process.
The waste management needs in Nordegg will undergo major changes as the commercial core is developed. The current system of individual dumpsters may not be feasible given the size of the lots and the eventual business mix will dictate the type of services required. Additionally, as Nordegg develops as a tourism destination additional recycling and organic waste disposal services will be expected by visitors. At that time it may be possible for a private operator to offer this service but we need to find a solution in the interim.
The best option appears to be continuing with the service provided by Clearwater County, either directly or through a contractor, at the rates that were charged by the Rocky Regional Waste Authority. The 6-yard dumpsters with locking metal lids would be $60 per pickup,* with pickup available weekly from May 1 to September 30 and monthly from October 1 to April 30. This would help build a business case for a private operator, if the County does not wish to continue offering the service in the future, and would provide consistency for the existing businesses. From an economic development perspective, this will not only help with the retention of existing businesses but will also make it easier to attract new investments into the commercial core.
Most businesses in Nordegg have experienced growth throughout the pandemic. Some did not require a dumpster prior to 2020 but would now be interested in the program. This would also allow the public dumpster program offered by the Nordegg Community Association to continue until a long-term plan can be implemented.
* They charged a rate of $218 per month for weekly pickup during the summer and $85 per month for one pickup during the winter. This was due to fewer businesses being open year-round at the time. The rate of $60 per pickup is the same rate averaged over the year to simplify the administration of the program.
How does the $60 per pickup rate being proposed compare to other municipalities? That depends on a few factors, here’s what it would look like for us at the Nordegg Canteen.
This is the rate we paid to the waste authority for a 6-yard dumpster with a locking metal lid. The pickup schedule was weekly during the summer and monthly in the winter. Recycling options are free but require us to bring the items to the waste transfer station (limited hours that coincide with the hours when we are open) while food waste collection programs are not available.
We would pay $45 per pickup if we were in Red Deer. This is based on a quote from a private operator and the rate listed in their current bylaws for services provided by The City of Red Deer.
Jasper uses a different system with collective bins shared in the commercial areas. The commercial garbage rate is $1,830 per year and the recycling fees are $192 per year. This is approximately $39 per week, based on their Utility Fees Levy and Collection Bylaw.
Banff provides an interesting comparison as another mountain town focused on tourism. Based on the rates listed in their Fees and Charges Bylaw we would pay $66 per pickup for the equivalent of a 6-yard bin. This is in part because they increased their rates to encourage businesses to divert more waste from the landfill. As part of this, they also offer:
- Businesses can drop recyclables for free in the bins located in the downtown surface parking lots (conveniently located near businesses) as well as at the waste transfer station;
- Commercial cardboard recycling starts at $17 per pickup; and
- Commercial food waste collection starts at $8 per pickup.
Assuming that the new food waste program is similar to the organics composting program that The City of Red Deer previously implemented, this and the cardboard recycling program would reduce our waste disposal costs at the Nordegg Canteen from $66 per week down to $50 per week using their rate structure.