Curbside Automation

Automated garbage and organics collection is coming soon to North Cowichan. The aging fleet of garbage trucks needs to be replaced in order to continue to provide curbside collection to the approximately 10,000 homes currently serviced in the community, and they will be replaced with three diesel and one electric truck by 2025.

Automated collection uses mechanical arms to lift and dump bins at the roadside, and better protects the health and safety of employees. Residents will be provided with new wheeled carts that the mechanical arms can lift.

How we got here

Feedback was collected from the community on this proposed change to service in August-September 2021. Over 2,000 surveys were completed and we are thankful for the feedback from everyone who participated in the process. A full report of what was heard was presented to Council on November 9, 2021 that showed the majority of residents were in favour of automated collection and the increase in service to include yard waste removal.

Next steps

On February 1, 2023, Council approved the implementation plan:

  • Phase 1: automated collection of kitchen waste and garbage
    • 2023: new trucks will be ordered (3 diesels trucks and 1 electric), and residents will be surveyed to ask what size garbage cart they want
    • 2024: new carts will be ordered
    • 2025: carts will be distributed to households and automated collection of kitchen waste and garbage will begin
  • Phase 2: automated collection of recycling material
    • The timing of this will be after the current recycling collection contract ends in 2024, but likely not until 2026 at the earliest
  • Transition to commingled organics – kitchen waste plus yard waste
    • Staff recommend moving forward with the collection of yard waste as part of the program, as 58% of respondents were in favour of yard waste collection. The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is working toward a facility that would accept this material.

About automated collection

Manual collection of garbage is hard on workers and often causes injury. Protecting the health and safety of employees has been a driving force in other municipalities to change to an automated system, including the Cowichan Valley Regional District, and many other Vancouver Island communities.

With automated collection trucks, a mechanical arm would lift and dump collection carts.

These new trucks require new garbage and recycling carts (currently residents can use any cart they like that meets size/weight requirements) and a new organics bin that are compatible with the mechanical arms.

Along with the improvement to worker health and safety, there are a number of benefits for residents under this new service including:

  • New, uniform carts.
  • No weight restrictions on waste.
  • Opportunity for new services such as roadside yard waste collection, and larger capacity garbage carts to accommodate bigger families (for additional cost).

Costs of automated collection

Automated collection is estimated to result in $58/year, per household fee increase – from $125 to $183/year per household for all curbside collection.

The increase in fees is in line with what other regions, such as Regional District of Nanaimo, City of Nanaimo, Saanich, and Courtenay currently pay for collection.


Operations Department