City of Greater Geraldton to investigate reinstating verge rubbish collection, skip bin program “too popular”

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Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
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Verge rubbish collection in Perth suburb Marangaroo.
Camera IconVerge rubbish collection in Perth suburb Marangaroo. Credit: David Baylis/Community News

Geraldton’s Mayor has admitted the council’s bulk rubbish collection has “failed,” moving to reinstate verge-side rubbish collection to replace the over-booked skip bin program.

At the City of Greater Geraldton’s ordinary May council meeting last night, Mayor Shane Van Styn moved to have council consider restoring verge side collection to residences in the second half of the next financial year and request staff prepare a report of a verge side pick up model for deliberation prior to the mid year budget review in 2022.

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City of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn. Credit: Geoff Vivian/Geraldton Guardian

In 2016 the City’s biennial verge-side pickup provision, at a cost of approximately $450,000 was axed in favour of the verge skip bin program to save around $300,000, and made 400 skip bins available to be booked for free once a year by Geraldton residents.

Three years later the City found the program to be so popular it was doubled to make 800 bins available and expanded to include Walkaway at a cost rivalling that of the abandoned verge-side arrangement.

But within the last few weeks the City’s executive stopped accepting new applications for skip bins, with the current wait list to have a bin made available to applicants exceeding six months.

CGG mayor Shane Van Styn brough forward the motion as new business of an urgent nature, saying council needed to give frustrated residents inquiring about getting rid of their bulk rubbish reassurance the issue was being worked on.

“Over the years it just got more and more expensive and the demand has grown longer and longer,” he said.

“I don’t like the mess (verge collections) create, but also I don’t like picking up the skip bins and having everything in a hole that’s got metal and bikes and all sorts of weird and wonderful things, and a verge pick up in whatever form it will look like allows us to separate waste better and provide high diversion rates.

Personally, because I think the skip bin system has failed.

- City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn.
City of Greater Geraldton deputy mayor Tarleah Thomas.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton deputy mayor Tarleah Thomas. Credit: Garry Sarre/Supplied

“In regards to the timing of this...It’s not about getting bogged down in the detail of what it would look like but sending a signal and we need to address this now, we need to provide certainty.”

Deputy Mayor Tarleah Thomas asked why council would consider returning to a program that was abandoned for being too expensive.

“Personally, because I think the skip bin system has failed,” the Mayor said.

“Or it’s too popular, depends how you look at it.

“It’s intention was to take all the waste and it just has failed, there’s too much.”

Cr David Caudwell spoke against the motion, saying he had witnessed many residents taking “responsibility for their own rubbish” by transporting large amounts of waste at a time to the Meru Waste Disposal Facility themselves.

City of Greater Geraldton councillor David Caudwell.
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton councillor David Caudwell. Credit: Supplied

“There’s an equity issue there and maybe part of the reason why people want skip bins or kerbside pick up...is because they don’t have the resources or the capacity to get rubbish out to the tip themselves, over and above the green bins.

“But if that’s the case, I would of thought we could make a provision to consider applications from people based on their circumstances rather than just have universal service to everybody, whether they need it or not.

“But in terms of consistency to the whole community, especially for those who drag their own stuff out there every weekend....and creating that expectation that we will be doing this....I have to vote no.”

He said he expected after the City’s feasibility report was delivered on the new model it would not be supported by the majority of councillors, disappointing the community.

“If this is passed tonight it will create an expectation that in the middle of next year the service will go back in...I’d like to see in 6 month time how many councillors say no, I think there will be many,” he said.

City of Greater Geraldton councillor Sally Elphick
Camera IconCity of Greater Geraldton councillor Sally Elphick Credit: City of Greater Geraldton

Cr Sally Elphick said reinstating the program would make residents feel like they were getting better value for their rates.

“I think for ratepayers it’s up there with trees, footpaths...that’s what they want for their rates,” she said.

“I think with the reinstatement of the verge side collection I think they’ll actually see something that they want, better value for their rates.”

The motion was passed 11 votes to one, with Cr Hall not present.

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