Talking out the Trash: Future of Curbside Collection in North Cowichan

The Municipality of North Cowichan soon needs to replace its garbage trucks in order to continue to provide curbside garbage, recycling, and kitchen waste collection to the approximately 10,000 homes currently services in the community.

With the prospect of new trucks comes an opportunity to consider moving to an automated collection service from a manual one. Automated collection uses mechanical arms to lift and dump bins at the roadside and better protects the health and safety of employees.

To collect feedback from the community on this proposed change to service, a survey was available from August 23 to September 13. The results of this survey were presented to Council on November 9, 2021 and the full report can be found below

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 Manual and Automated Collection

Existing Costs: 
The current fee for waste collection in the municipality is $111/year, per household.

Cost for Proposed Automated Kitchen, Garbage & Recycling Collection: 
Automation of the kitchen/garbage/recycling collection is estimated to result in $57/year, per household fee increase – totaling $168 /year per household.

Cost for Proposed Automated Kitchen, Garbage & Recycling with Yard Waste Collection: 
Automation of kitchen/garbage/recycling collection with the addition of a yard waste collection program is estimated to cost an additional $71/year – totaling $182/year, per household.

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.

Thank you for your feedback

Council understands any decision around changes to service will have an impact on residents and acknowledges that people may have different opinions about next steps for the community. Knowing this, collecting input from the community on this proposed change was important.

We had over 2,000 surveys completed over the three weeks it was live and are thankful for the feedback from everyone who participated in the process.

Survey Results Summary - "What we heard"

On November 9, 2021, Council received a presentation summarizing the results of the survey. You can view the report from staff and the summary report by clicking on the image below.


A follow-up report from staff will be coming forward to Council on December 1, 2021 that will include further information on implementation options, budget considerations, and next steps. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions we received and the answers to those questions. If you have further questions about the proposed automated curbside collection, please reach out to us using the contact info below.

I have a long driveway and transport my garbage cans to the curb by car. It would be difficult to get the automated bins in my car.
Automated bins can be stored near the road. On the day of collection, the garbage cans can be brought by car and loaded into the automated bins. The bins can be transported the short distance to the curb.

The automated bins look larger and heavier than my existing garbage, organics and recycle cans. I am worried I won’t be able to carry them to the curb.
The automated bins have large wheels that will make transporting them easier.

What are the sizes of the bins that are being proposed?
Bin sizes have not yet been determined, and the input from residents from the curbside survey will help inform this decision. The garbage bin options range in size from 80 to 180 liters, and for our current curbside collection, the max. bin size for garbage is 77 liters, so very comparable to the smallest automated bin size option. Organics bins range from 80 to 240 liters with the latter for yard waste/kitchen waste. The recycling bins range from 240 to 360 liters.

How do larger bins encourage waste reduction?
Garbage bin size has not yet been determined. While there may be the option for a household to choose a larger bin, it will come with an increased cost, compared to households using a smaller automated garbage bin. The automated recycling bins are up to 360 liters, which should encourage more recycling.

Will plastic bags, Styrofoam, and glass be accepted in the automated system?
No. If the Municipality changes to automated curbside collection, the type of recyclable material accepted at the curb will remain the same, as it is regulated by Recycle BC and not North Cowichan.

Will there be any job loss as a result of the automated system?
No, although there is some gain in efficiency with an automated curbside system, we are expecting more residents to use the service which will offset the quicker pace.

Contact Us

Questions about the proposed automated service? Please reach out to us:
Operations Department