Revelstoke city union protests after city council trashes their low bid for garbage services

A city council attempt to privatize garbage collection service by allowing private companies to bid has backfired when the local union, Cupe 363, submitted the lowest bid. Council went further and voted against accepting the lowest bid, meaning what happens next is unclear.

Revelstoke currently has a manual garbage collection service provided by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 363. Photo: From Flickr -

It’s unclear what will happen to the future of our garbage collection service after Revelstoke council rejected a staff recommendation to continue the service in-house at their Oct. 13 meeting.

The city desperately needs a new garbage truck. They’re using a very old truck they pulled back into service after its replacement died. Also, WorkBC rules say the city needs a second collection employee added to the service be compliant with safety regulation.

Council had hoped, by putting the garbage collection service out to tender, that a private company could provide a cheaper service and meet these requirements. Currently the service is provided in-house and employees are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 363.

However, that attempt at privatization backfired when the union, which was also entitled to bid on the garbage collection contract, came in with the lowest bid.

Only three tenders were received; from Bresco, Winkler Disposal Systems 2014 and Emcom Services. None of these showed a better financial option than the current service and each had an application issue that didn’t meet the proposal requirements, which made clear comparisons difficult.

(Read the staff report here.)

For CUPE Local 363 to continue its service in-house would be at an annual cost of $341,218, about $112.99 per household, with the recommendation that the city buys a new truck. Bresco provided the closest alternative at $462,853 per year, $153.26 per household.

Councillors came to a split 3-3 vote, which defaults to a rejection of the recommendation. The deciding vote from Mayor Mark McKee was absent as he recused himself for a conflict of interest, since he is a friend of Bresco’s owner.

Councillors Aaron Orlando, Linda Nixon and Trevor English voted in favour of continuing the curbside garbage collection in-house while councillors Scott Duke, Gary Sulz and Connie Brothers voted against.

Tender processes are costly in both staff time and money and CUPE Local 363 released a statement following the decision. President Chris Selvig expressed surprise at council’s rejection of its own report.

“We took this review process very seriously and were open to discussing ways to improve service and adapt to the changing needs of Revelstoke residents,” he said. “City staff took a close look at the current service in preparing its report and we were confident council would choose the best option. In-house curbside garbage collection is clearly the responsible choice – the most economical, responsive and most accountable to taxpayers.”

The union said the vote leaves it unclear what will happen now, but that CUPE 363 will be contacting Revelstoke City Council for assurances that any further review process remains open and accountable.

It remains unclear what happens next, but the city still need to find a solution to their very old truck.

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Here is the media release from CUPE 363: