White Rock considering privatizing household garbage collection

May 2015

To: White Rock Residents
From: White Rock City workers who provide the services that keep our city running

We are members of CUPE 4 402-01 and we are working to keep White Rock recycling and garbage collection public.

You may have heard that our White Rock Mayor and City Council are seriously considering privatizing household garbage collection and recycling services.

A unique community located within a larger population, White Rock is a city highly valued by its citizens. As a smaller community, we face different challenges than the large cities of Surrey and Vancouver.

Your city workers currently provide garbage, recycling and green waste collection for almost 4,000 White Rock homes. As labourers for the City, we also do other work – on sewers, repairs and maintenance, sidewalk maintenance and other services as needed. We are an integrated part of the team that keeps White Rock running. Here are some of the reasons that we believe White Rock should keep the team together and keep household garbage and recycling as city-delivered services.

A caring community service

It’s about people and the quality of service we provide. Your city workers believe that we can offer a higher and more consistent service to White Rock residents than private contractors. Many of us live here. We know the people we serve. We report damage and residents’ safety concerns. We help seniors and make sure cans are put back properly. We are eyes on the street in a community that we care about.

Quality, local service you know and trust. Keep it public!

Accountability and caring for the environment

When services are delivered publicly they are focused on service quality and environmental sustainability, and they are more accountable to the public. We elect government to provide services and we expect our local government to balance environmental, community, financial and social goals when looking at delivering a service. It is not just a simple bottom line. Quality of life, security, the safety of our streets, sustainability and cost are all factors to consider.

Affordability and cost-effectiveness

Even if we simply look at the bottom line, privatizing services like garbage collection often ends up costing more, not less. Council needs to look at not just the price of the contract but also the costs that they will have to keep paying. Some of these are costs that will be paid directly by the City and some are costs that will be paid but hidden in the contract.

Unlike a city, private companies must ensure that they receive a premium over the amount it actually costs to do the job in order to guarantee profit. Often, this means that privatizing a service is more expensive than cities originally planned.

And then there’s the cost of privatizing gone wrong. In 2009, the nearby City of Port Moody brought solid waste and recycling services back in-house after 10 years of private provision. The contractor missed pick-ups every week and provided such poor service that the city sent municipal employees out to clean up their mess. Two years later, the city’s inhouse waste collection won Port Moody a 2011 Solid Waste Association of North America Award of Excellence.

You may have heard about serious concerns from multi-family buildings scrambling to deal with the July 1 deadline for privatizing their garbage and recycling services. The City has proposed that single family household services be privatized by September 1, 2015.

What can you do to keep it public?

  • Let our Mayor and City Council know that you want garbage collection and recycling to continue as a public, city-delivered service.
  • Order free “Keep it public” stickers to put on your garbage bin and share with your neighbours. Reach us at WhiteRockCityWorkers@gmail.com or call 604-812-8264.
  • Stay in touch with your city workers – at www.cupe402-01.ca