Ottawa councillors trash OC Transpo’s $2M tab for garbage bins

A $2-million tab is the estimate for putting trash cans in each of the city’s 1,450 transit shelters.

The price tag surprised more than one transit commissioner.

“I question the costs,” said Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess. “I’m looking for a way to incorporate this into the existing OC Transpo budget.”

The figures are provided in a report responding to Bloess’ formal inquiry to Transpo management back in September, filed after receiving complaints from riders about filthy shelters.

The cost of placing a garbage can at all shelters is estimated at $1.5 million, and includes the cost of the receptacle, site preparation, labour and installation materials. Adding two garbage trucks to collect trash would incur a one-time cost of $500,000.

Then there’s the operating expense. Picking up garbage once a week is projected at $450,000 per year.

An additional $150,000 is needed for inventory and to replace vandalized or damaged containers, ball-parked at 10% of the total count.

Those numbers would grow as more shelters and garbage cans are added.

Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney wants to know if the estimate includes city benches with garbage cans already built in, which in his ward, are steps from bus shelters.

“Because if it does, $2 million is really not the correct number, and that’s a concern for me,” Tierney said. “I know they’re different divisions, I completely understand that, but we’ve got to stop working in silos here, people.”

The report lists a few downsides to having bins inside shelters.

It will mean “less functional space for all customers, including those who use mobility and assistive devices,” reads the report. In addition, riders could “experience discomfort due to odours or smell, even with regular removal and disinfection.”

Lighting a trash can on fire presents “significant safety concerns and could render the shelter inoperable for an undetermined period of time until repairs could be affected or the shelter replaced.”

Vandalism is also a concern.

Transit shelters are “magnets” for garbage, Bloess said. Bus shelters are currently inspected and cleaned weekly.

Bloess suggested canning that idea. It could be cheaper to simply have garbage cans at shelters rather than sending cleaning crews to the bus stops, said Bloess.

Overall, Tierney isn’t satisfied with the details of the response.

“There’s only one taxpayer,” said Tierney. “If we are going to look at this, we need the real numbers.”

— with files from Jon Willing

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca @ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/01/16/ottawa-councillors-trash-oc-transpos-2m-tab-for-garbage-bins

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