Valley Waste’s budget woes could spell end to fall clean up, leaf collection

Nancy Kelly
Published on May 29, 2014

Piles of old furniture like this one on Hillside Avenue dot several lawns in Wolfville these days, creating an eyesore. - Wendy Elliott,

Wendy Elliott

Valley Waste Resource Management is facing a budget crunch that could translate into an increase in funding from its partners and force cancellation of fall roadside waste and leaf pick up in the Valley.

Ross Maybee, who manages VWRM, confirmed the agency’s draft budget calls for an 11.26 per cent increase from the nine municipal partners that fund the agency and a variety of cuts to programming and service.

To reduce spending, the agency is not refilling some positions, including a planning and policy co-ordinator and part-time inspector. Maybee said the vast majority of cuts will be “invisible to the public,” noting the loss of fall clean-up will most directly affect the public.

“There will probably be some push back on that one,” he said.

Valley Waste was originally looking at a 19 per cent increase in fees, but Maybee said “an extremely intense line-by-line examination” helped get the increase down below 12 per cent.

Maybee blames a “perfect storm” of factors that have forced the recycler to find ways to trim the budget.

“The closure of Minas Basin Pulp and Paper created a major loss of income from their waste,” explained Maybee, adding revenue has also been lost with Michelin’s improvements to recycle its waste rubber.

“That is a good thing, but it does affect our bottom line.”

Valley Waste’s contractual obligations stemming from its decision not to own its own vehicles or landfill have also contributed to it current financial position, said Maybee, adding, “a provincial regulatory framework that is barely sustainable” also plays a role in the situation.

The budget was passed at the most recent meeting of the managing board and it has since been passed on to the two municipalities and seven towns that fund the agency “for consideration.”

Maybee believes a majority of municipalities have pre-approved it and indicated five out of the nine units, including the two counties, must ratify it before it can be finalized.

The budget, if approved, will be retroactive to April 1.