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New compost bins ordered for Annapolis County residents

Annapolis County says it has expropriated Valley Waste's transfer station in Lawrencetown after Valley Waste refused use of the station. While Valley Waste is collecting green bins in Annapolis County, the municipality is handing out biodegradable plastic bags for compost as a temporary measure until the county's own green bins arrive.
Annapolis County says it filed documents to expropriate Valley Waste's transfer station in Lawrencetown after Valley Waste refused use of the station. The municipality is handing out biodegradable plastic bags for compost as a temporary measure until the county's own green bins arrive. (FILE PHOTO)

10,000 carts for $572,600 plus HST

ANNAPOLIS COUNTY, N.S. – New compost carts are expected to be rolled out starting later this month.

Annapolis County chief administrative officer (CAO) John Ferguson recently confirmed that the first two truckloads of new compost carts were slated for delivery on Sept. 17. 

County council passed a motion approving the purchase of 10,000 compost carts for $572,600 plus HST in open session Aug. 29, Ferguson said.

“We went with a company out of Charlotte, North Carolina that can deliver at a good price,” he said, adding that the manufacturer produces Schaefer waste carts.

Pricing and delivery times were key factors council considered when the search for new compost carts began, Ferguson said.

“We wanted to buy in Canada first if we could get the proper pricing (and) if they could be delivered on time, keeping in mind that the service of having compost dealt with in the community was becoming to the point of where it was a health and safety issue, so the urgency allowed us to act immediately.”

Not using Valley Waste bins

County officials decided against sourcing the compost bins locally from Valley Waste for a number of reasons.

“The existing bins that Valley Waste had are upwards of 20 years old if they hadn’t been replaced,” said Ferguson, who noted that the municipality felt it would be too time-consuming to verify the condition of all the Valley Waste bins distributed throughout the county.

Through EFR Environmental, a company contracted for providing waste collection services in the Annapolis Valley, Ferguson said the County of Annapolis put forth a counter offer to purchase the existing carts used by local residents for $5.50 per bin. That counter, made Aug. 28, was rejected by Valley Waste.

A county employee was tasked with finding alternative options for sourcing new bins.

“Providing a new County logo and different colour, we felt, that would assist the citizens with knowing exactly what to do with the new cart,” said Ferguson.

“The final matter was; why would the county pay for carts that their citizens already paid for 20 years ago?”

The County of Annapolis made biodegradable compost bags available to residents for the transition period.

An unresolved dispute between the Municipality of the County of Annapolis and Valley Waste is at the heart of the changeup in waste collection services. The two parties have differing opinions on how the waste authority, an organization formed by an agreement signed by partnering municipalities, operates.

“We are of the opinion that Valley Waste acted without an approved budget,” said Ferguson.

“We are firm on that.”

Services disrupted

The CAO admitted that there are some upfront costs associated with parting ways with Valley Waste, but he added that the municipality believes there is a potential for cost savings in the future.

“There’s some immediate challenges but, in the long run, we believe we will see substantial savings,” he said.

The unresolved differences between the county and the waste authority started to make headlines after Valley Waste announced that the authority would stop providing curbside collection services in Annapolis County due to non-payment as of Aug. 18.

The authority alleged the County of Annapolis owed more than $700,000 for services provided between April and July.

“Valley Waste had been demanding that Annapolis County pay over $700,000. However, Valley Waste did not have a budget approved to seek that amount,” said Ferguson, reiterating the county’s position on the matter.

Ferguson pointed to a Valley Waste directive instructing EFR workers to refrain from emptying residential compost carts in Annapolis County as a tipping point from a service delivery standpoint.  

“We believe that the order by Valley Waste created severe disruption in the community on compost. We believe that that order to EFR did not need to be implemented,” the CAO said.

Valley Waste spokesperson Andrew Garrett, however, traces the origin of the disruption back to unpaid bills.

“Settling the arrears would have allowed for the continuation of services but the deadline passed and so the responsibility for residential curbside waste removal fell to the county for its residents,” he said in an e-mail Sept. 14.

“We would say the entire process has been disruptive to many and the collection of the green bin carts is part of that disruption but is not what disrupted service. This was never where we wanted to end up but, unfortunately, is where we find ourselves.”

Debate around unsettled debt continues

Garrett said Valley Waste is still seeking payment for services provided since April, when County of Annapolis officials indicated that the municipality would serve notice to withdraw from its contract with the other municipalities that created Valley Waste.

“Any cheques sent by Annapolis County came with conditions and terms that were detrimental to Valley Waste, (and) are outside of the Inter-Municipal Services Agreement that involves the six other municipalities,” he said.

“The conditions would also have resulted in Valley Waste breaching a contract with one of its service providers. Annapolis County has been a part of Valley Waste for close to 20 years and have always agreed to a budget. It is disappointing they decided not to support the budget by not paying their bill.”

Ferguson maintains that the County of Annapolis has made reasonable attempts to settle the dispute and submit payment to Valley Waste.

"We're not in the position that our requests couldn't have been carried out," the CAO said.

Garrett said Valley Waste was willing to sell the bins for $8.46 each, but that was not accepted.

“Based on the condition of the carts we have collected already, we estimate that 85 per cent of the bins in circulation in Annapolis County are still usable,” said Garrett.  

“We are appreciative of Annapolis County agreeing to empty the carts and manage the contents to facilitate our collection of the carts.”

The Valley Waste green bins collected within Annapolis County will be used to replace compost carts in the other municipalities the waste authority serves on an as-needed basis, Garrett said.

The County of Annapolis issued the following notice Sept. 13 advising residents how to prepare green carts for pick-up by Valley Waste:

  • Green carts will be emptied by waste collectors on your regular garbage day – once dumped don’t use it
  • Leave green carts in a safe location at or near roadside for pick up by Valley Waste – once dumped don’t use it
  • All residents should continue to place compost roadside in compostable bags on collection day
  • All waste should be placed roadside by 7 a.m. on the regular collection day
  • New green carts are in transit and distribution will commence as soon as possible

Related stories:

- Annapolis County CAO responds to non-payment claims regarding Valley Waste

- Annapolis County expropriates Valley Waste's Lawrencetown transfer station

- Valley Waste vows to halt curbside services in Annapolis County Aug. 18

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