A proposal to install garbage cans in Ottawa’s bus shelters is facing resistance from the transit commission due to its perceived $2-million price tag.
The issue will be revisited in more detail at the February meeting of the transit commission, says Innes Coun. Rainer Bloess.
At the September meeting of the transit commission, Bloess asked the commission to investigate the costs of installing garbage receptacles in bus shelters.
The response to that inquiry, which appeared on the agenda for the Jan. 16 meeting of the commission, states: “The cost of installing a garbage receptacle at all shelters is estimated at $1.5 million. This estimate includes the cost of the garbage receptacle, preparation of the site, labour and installation materials.”
The report also states that a one-time cost of $500,000 would be incurred for the purchase of two garbage collection vehicles that would service the shelters, bringing the total cost of implementation to approximately $2 million.
As well, city staff estimates the cost of sending staff to clean the shelters would be $450,000 annually.
Bloess says he feels as though the report doesn’t account for the work that is currently being done to clean shelters. “My first reaction was that it was kind of incredulous that numbers like this would come out.”
There are already garbage cans attached to benches outside of some shelters that are paid for by advertisers, Bloess says.
As well, “for them to say, ‘we’ll need two garbage trucks to service this . . . ’ we have vehicles out there already going to every shelter every week, in some cases more frequently. There seems to be almost a reluctance here to address this issue,” he says.
“My goal is to increase the service standards without increasing the existing budget, which I think is possible.”
Financial costs aside, the report states that the installation of garbage receptacles could increase vandalism in bus shelters and that “customers could experience discomfort due to odours or smell, even with regular removal and disinfection.”
However, some Centretown residents disagree with this assessment.
“Garbage doesn’t smell worse on the floor or in a can, I would appreciate it if there were a garbage can,” says Patrick Schmidt, 26, a university exchange student from Germany.
Centretown resident Jacob D’Aloisio, 20, says the garbage is something he doesn’t pay attention to because it is so commonplace.
“As long as the benches are clean it doesn’t bother me, but I can’t really see a garbage can being a bad thing to have in (the shelters),” he says.
But the report states that “the addition of a receptacle within the shelter may result in less functional space for all customers, including those who use mobility and assistive devices.”
”The numbers don’t add up and the rationale doesn’t make sense,” says Bloess. That’s why he decided to raise the issue again at the January meeting of the transit commission but because of procedure was forced to introduce a motion and wait until the February meeting to tackle the issue.
“I’m frustrated both with the answer and I’m frustrated with the way this got handled at the transit commission,” says Bloess.