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Simcoe County waste collector wants out of contract, new RFP in November

Posted October 23, 2019

Hit and miss curbside waste and recycling collections across Simcoe County are expected to continue into the foreseeable future, including in New Tecumseth, while the upper tier reboots the program to deal with its contractor, Waste Connections of Canada (WCC), that can't fulfill the terms of their contract and want out of it.

An update to County council from its waste management department says the issues with WCC have "been most apparent" since August "whereupon significant unmanned routes have been experienced."

The report to council notes WCC is "significantly understaffed" for mechanics and drivers, and while they have recruited new hires, the turnover remains high.

"To put the driver shortage in perspective, they require, on average, 63 trucks to be routed per day and to do so they require a full driver contingent of 78, to allow for vacations, sick and backup drivers. Waste Connections, as of October 3, 2019, have only 62 drivers and, when vacation and sick coverages are considered, they do not have enough to fully man all the collection routes."

WCC senior management informed the County on Oct. 3 they were not likely to have staffing levels up for at least six months or more, suggesting a move to bi-weekly recycling could alleviate its issues.

"Waste Connections has also requested that they be let out of the current collections contract due to expire spring 2022, as soon as possible as they do not see this staffing problem entirely abating under the existing manual collection system."

As a result, a new RFP will be "expedited ... to the greatest extent possible in an effort to regain quality, predictable collection services."

However, the private sector waste management industry has undergone consolidations reducing the number of potential bidders qualified to take on or interested in separate contracts for garbage/organics and recycling.

"At least one small collection contractor has expressed they would be unable to accommodate this and, as the number of qualified service providers in Ontario has declined over recent years due to mergers and acquisitions, in order to ensure more competitive process, staff are now reconsidering the previous rationale to maintain contracts for the whole County," according to the update. "Staff are therefore seeking Council approval to explore the value of further splitting the County into two sections, such that there could be potentially two contracts for garbage/organics and two contracts for recycling. Proponents would be invited to bid on the whole County or each of the two sections so that an analysis could be undertaken with the goal of awarding to the proponent or proponents whose proposal(s) were providing the best service value to County residents."

An RFP is expected to be issued Nov. 15, closing Dec. 31. Offers would be evaluated in January, provided to council in February, awarded in March 2020 to commence in November 2021, ahead of WWC's spring 2022 expiry.

"The historical rationale of increased competition for maintaining whole County contracts, is perhaps no longer as pertinent due to the number of mergers and acquisitions that have occurred since the last waste collection procurement process occurred. The pool of potential bidders is smaller than historically seen and staff are hesitant to preclude the small collection contractor from participating in a procurement process for a whole County contract."

In the meantime, the County continues to fill service gaps with other sub contractors but estimate at least 9,000 units "are being inconvenienced by a delayed collection each week. ... Based on current staffing levels and available external trucks we envision that Mondays and Friday collections should be fully routed with any missed routes from Tuesday through Thursday able to be collected on Fridays and Saturdays."

All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri