Town of Castor settles on rear-load garbage truck

Written by Stu Salkeld

The Town of Castor will be getting a replacement garbage truck and one that won’t include extra work or responsibilities for staff or residents. 

The decision was made at the May 25 regular meeting of council.

The meeting was held via social media to meet social distancing guidelines.

At a previous meeting, councillors discussed the less than stellar condition of the current garbage truck, Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding available to help with the purchase, and options for a replacement truck.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Christopher Robblee had been instructed to get a detailed report about the current garbage truck to see how many years of life it had left in it.

As it turned out, not many.

Robblee’s report to council noted, “At the last meeting of council, council requested that our current mechanic take a look at that garbage truck. This did occur and is the second mechanic to indicate it needs to be replaced. 

“The cost to repair or replace sections of the garbage truck isn’t feasible considering the age.”

Robblee also noted the truck is leaking, has no containment and rust was found on its frame. Hence, the purchase of a replacement was necessary.

In that light, Robblee pointed out the town didn’t have quite enough money for a replacement truck. 

“In 2018 council was advised that the current garbage truck is past its safe operational expectancy,” stated Robblee’s report. 

“Since then council reserved $80,000, roughly $24,000 of this being approved MSI funds. 

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,” said Robblee.

“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.

“Administration also looked for a supplier to sell a combo unit truck (front and side lift), we have been told these trucks are custom ordered and prices would be dependent on size and functionality,” stated Robblee.

The CAO also noted in his memo each option included implications.

“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 also noted that if a side-loading truck was purchased, residents should only purchase their own carts after speaking to town staff because not all carts work with all trucks.

However, the side-loading truck apparently includes one cart for each residence included in the purchase price, but any more carts must be purchased.

It was also noted that the side-loading truck couldn’t pick up at non-residences such as businesses, which would have to arrange for their own garbage pick up.

Coun. Kevin McDougall stated the side-loader would be safer as it only requires one staff to operate.

Coun. Trudy Kilner was concerned the side-loading carts were too small and wouldn’t hold enough garage. Robblee pointed out the town already has a limit of five bags per household, and anymore than that requires extra payment.

Robblee also warned that a new side-load system would likely include negative backlash from the public, as it includes garbage pick-up from the new carts on the street and residents would have to learn the new system.

However, he noted the Town of Coronation has street pick-up and people seemed to catch on quickly.

Coun. Lonny Nelner stated he was leaning toward the older-style back-loading truck, as the side-loading system’s carts seemed expensive.

Coun. Rod Zinger stated he disliked the idea of businesses having to find their own garbage pick-up.

Of the options available, councillors voted to purchase a rear-load garbage truck with a tipper and continue with the current system. 

Robblee noted because of the dollar value the search for a new garbage truck would have to be publicly tendered.


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.