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Winnipeg ups the ask of new waste contractors

A comparison of bids from 2011 and 2016 shows the City of Winnipeg wants better reporting from whichever company assumes garbage and recycling collection in 2017.

The City of Winnipeg is on the hunt for new garbage and recycling contracts to begin in 2017

Elisha Dacey / Metro

The City of Winnipeg is on the hunt for new garbage and recycling contracts to begin in 2017

Newer vehicles, more penalties and no month free of consequences for service deficiencies are some of the terms the City of Winnipeg has set for its future collectors of garbage and recyclables.

The city is currently advertising a request for proposals (RFP) for new waste collection contracts, which are to be awarded before the current ones with Emterra expire in 2017.

In 2012, the company began a five-year $59 million contract with the city.

The city is currently divided into four collection zones but recently, staff within the water and waste department recommended boundaries be reconfigured into two areas, citing reasons for doing so as better pricing and service delivery.

The city committee on waster and waste also endorsed the new contracts be seven years, instead of five.

Although there are no sweeping changes residents can expect to see at the curb once the new contracts are inked, a look at the bids issued for waste collection in 2011 and now reveals the city has heightened its expectations.

For example, several years ago the city said in order for contractors to become adjusted to the workload, their first month of collection would be penalty fee if service was not up to par.

Such a deal is not being offered now this time around, according to the new RFP.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), chairperson of the water and waste committee, believes this move is an improvement.

“I certainly think they’ve gotten better over time,” he said of Emterra.

“There were a lot of problems the first month or two with Emterra, so we’ve got to try and do a better job.”

Mayes pointed out some fault may have been with the city, as he was advised the company was not provided with proper maps prior to their service start, leaving out sections of the city from their collection schedules.

“We can’t have that happening again.”

It appears the city also wants clearer communication with future contractors, requiring them to submit their routes, maps, schedules, as well as equipment lists to officials a month earlier than in 2012.

The city has also scrapped an “incentive bonus” of $200 per day, which was advertised in 2011 to be paid out if there were fewer than four service mishaps on a collection day.

Instead, the city appears to have expanded its list of fines from around ten to 25 as outlined in the 2016 document, including ones such as $1,000 per material each day when more than 40 items are missed in collection.

Another includes $100 extra if a contractor not only has a service failure, but also fails to report it to the proper supervisor.

Stricter penalties are one approach to ensuring good service delivery, said Mayes.

A second option he has not ruled out is having city crews perform collection work in some areas.

In fact, Mayes plans to fly to Ottawa to study its model of waste collection of splitting the work between in-house crews and private contractors, which he compliments as a formula to “keep everyone on their toes.”

“It’s innovative. It really is,” he said.

Other changes include the requirement to have a brand new fleet of vehicles--none that are older than 2017, even replacement ones--compared to the 2011 ask, where vehicles and equipment was considered ‘new’ if used for less than 240 hours.

And after much political debate that resulted in a vote to go back to the drawing board with public consultation, the city also mandates contractors be ready to pilot a one-year organics collection program for 10,000 households, if there was will from council to do so.

Ultimately, Mayes said he wants to see a smooth transition between contract periods. 

“Emterra does collect 99 per cent plus without any complaint, but you need the number to be almost perfect or people are going to be upset,” said Mayes.

City spokesperson Michelle Finley said the city could not provide comment on the matter, as the bid remains open.  

Mayes said a main difference between 2011 and now is the city has issued an RFP, as oppose to a tender, which allows for contracts to be awarded for reasons other than being the lowest price.

“I think people thought by going with Emterra, the low bid, maybe there were some quality control problems.”

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