Castor town council wants to ponder garbage truck decision

The Town of Castor discussed a new garbage truck at their May 11 meeting, including a new system that would require “roll out” bins. ECA Review/S.Salkeld
Written by Stu Salkeld

The Town of Castor discussed a new garbage truck at their May 11 meeting, including a new system that would require “roll out” bins. ECA Review/S.Salkeld

Castor town council put the brakes on a decision to buy a new garbage truck during their regular council meeting May 11. 

The meeting was conducted electronically to meet COVID-19 social distancing measures.

Town of Castor Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee presented councillors with a report on the purchase of a new garbage truck to replace the current one.

“In 2018 council was advised that the current garbage truck is past its safe operational expectancy. 

Since then council reserved $80,000, roughly $24,000 of this being approved Municipal Sustainability Initiative funds,” stated Robblee in his agenda memo. 

“MSI has a requirement that within no more than three years, or 2020, the funds must be used. As such, this represents the final year to use the MSI funds. 

Complicating this issue is that administration is unable to find a garbage truck for $80,000 and can only find garbage trucks ranging from $130,000 to $160,000.

“Administration is able to purchase a garbage truck for the original reserved amounts, but such equipment is the same as what we currently own.

“Further, for such a price council would be able to modernize to a side load garbage truck including all the garbage cans for residents of Castor. Such a price would also cover a load behind, but nothing else.

“Through research we have found that only, roughly, 14 per cent of municipalities still use a load behind system.”

Robblee noted if councillors wanted to proceed with buying a new garbage truck, some decisions needed to be made. 

“There are multiple implications both financial and social in this decision,” stated Robblee.

“Primarily, council will have to choose to transfer 2019 reserve cash to enable the purchase, in addition, administration will have to amend our 2020 MSI application. 

In either choice, funds will have to be transferred in order to purchase any type of waste system.

“Social implications include, but are not limited to, residents being required to pull their roll outs.

“However, it will also decrease the likelihood of complaints related to garbage not being taken, destroyed bags, improper garbage being put out among others.”

During discussion, Robblee described a major factor being a new garbage truck’s basic design. 

Modern garbage trucks include factors such as front or side loading, plus the ability to pick up plastic, street-sitting “roll out” garbage bins. 

He points out if roll out garbage bins are purchased, residents will have to get used to using them, including the fact they can only hold a certain amount of refuse per week and anything more would have to be taken to the transfer station by the residents themselves.

A major factor to consider about the old truck, pointed out the CAO, is that Occupational Health and Safety rules forbid things like staff riding on the side or back of the truck due to safety concerns.

Coun. Tony Nichols wanted more information about why many other municipalities were purchasing side-loading garbage trucks.

Coun. Rod Zinger stated the current garbage truck should be closely examined to find out exactly why it needs to be replaced and, perhaps, what its resale value would be.

He also pointed out this decision probably needs more time spent on it considering the amount of money that could be involved, and the fact that Coun. Lonnie Nellner had to excuse himself from the meeting.

Robblee noted the current garbage truck has aged to the point of having rust issues which could affect its ability to carry refuse.

Councillors eventually agreed to table this issue to give them time to ponder options, plus get a report from staff on the exact condition of the current garbage truck.


Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.