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'The bins aren’t appropriate': Residents react to Waterloo Region’s proposed waste collection program


A new fleet of garbage trucks and carts – instead of bags.

That’s part of a pricey new plan proposed by staff for the Region of Waterloo.

Starting in 2026, the region plans to roll out an automated cart-based system. Each household would get two carts and residents could still use bags, but they would need to put in the carts at the curb for pickup.

The cart-based system is already used in many other communities like Toronto, Guelph and Simcoe County.

The County of Simcoe rolls out a new waste cart system. Wed., Oct. 27, 2021 (Kraig Krause/CTV News)

“A single cart for garbage, that's 240 litres. It's equivalent to the existing three bag limit, maybe a little bit more. And then a green cart which is about 100 litres to 120 litres,” explained Jon Arseneault, Waterloo region’s waste management director.

All 60 of the region’s garbage trucks would need to be replaced, but the benefit is that it would be the trucks doing most of the heavy lifting.

“They have automated arms, that the driver inside the vehicle operates, that picks up the carts and deposits the waste into the garbage truck,” Arseneault said.

The County of Simcoe rolls out its waste collection cart program. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV News)

In a Planning and Works Committee meeting on Tuesday, staff encouraged councillors to approve a plan to award the $289,702,500 contract to Halton Recycling Ltd and Emterra Environmental, an Oakville company who was among the four submitted proposals. The waste management contract was carried by the committee but will go to regional councillors on May 22 for final approval.

“We will be coming back to council later this year with a fully scoped out, detailed communications and implementation plan,” Arsenault said.

Garbage collection will also switch from a five-day to a four-day collection week (Tuesday to Friday).

A report to staff said moving to cart-based collection, as well as transitioning to alternative fuel collection vehicles, will reduce injuries to workers, litter and greenhouse gas emissions.

The cost of the new program

The costs associated with these collection changes are much higher than the region’s existing contract.

“This trend of higher collection contract costs has been reflected in recently awarded contracts for other Ontario municipalities, with increases ranging from 30 per cent to 150 per cent higher,” staff said in its report.

The proposal approved by council includes one-time capital costs for the supply and distribution of curbside collection carts, in the amount of $25.7 million in 2025 and 2026. The estimated annual operating cost in March 2026 is pegged at $33 million.

Regional Councillor and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said the higher costs are his biggest concern.

“How is this going to impact affordability in terms of a core service within our region?” asked Vrbanovic in an interview with CTV News. “This is an increase that we know is going to have a direct hit on the budgets starting in March 2026 and on. So that is something that regional council is going to have to grapple with.”

The region acknowledged the cost increase but said it is based on market conditions and other jurisdictions who have the same system in place.

While curbside collection for this contract won’t start until March 2026, staff said planning and preparation for the change will happen right after the contract is awarded.

Residents react

David Hollinger lives in a Waterloo townhome and said he won’t have enough room for the new carts.

“My first thought was just to leave them on the boulevard. Except in the wintertime, the snow plows don't plow to the curb. And the trucks won't be able to pick them up,” worried Hollinger.

He said he’s hoping council reconsiders the plan and comes up with a different solution for those with limited space on their property.

“I'd probably look for a place to put those bins. Like on my councillor's front driveway,” he joked. “The bins aren’t appropriate. That’s unacceptable at this point.”

Robert Kocher, who also lives in Waterloo, believes the cart-based system is a great idea especially on windy days. He said he’s often chasing his garbage down the street when it goes flying.

“What I like about it is there's going to be less mess when there's pickups,” he said. “So these big bins, they're going to have lids on them. They're going to contain everything.” Top Stories

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