Since December, the City of Merritt has provided a free curbside pickup of debris materials being cleaned out of flood damaged properties. Landfill fees have also been waived to assist residents with their cleanup. Now, with the service expected to end on April 31, locals are asked to take advantage of the free service otherwise they would have to pay out of pocket.
Richard Wagner is the environmental specialist for the City of Merritt’s flood recovery section. He explains how the service came about.
“There was a discussion between the City of Merritt, the Thompson Nicola Regional District, and Emergency Management BC to look at how best to safely and efficiently handle the demolition and human made debris that was produced as a result of the flood event.”
“We basically came to the conclusion that it was going to be cost effective, to centralize that collection and disposal under a single program and contractor and project.” “EMBC provided the funding to the city and the regional district to pay for the disposal cost at the landfill as well as the cost for the collection of the debris around both the regional district and the city properties.”
The free service began on December 6. Since then, there has been an estimated amount of 1700 truckloads of debris disposed at the landfill. This amount represents the total waste generated from flood damaged areas in both the City of Merritt and the surrounding Thompson Nicola Region.
Funding was “approved several times to keep extending the project” but is set to end on April 30.
“At that point we’re not sure whether we will be getting further funding to continue past that point,” Wagner explained.
In Merritt, a pick up crew makes rounds daily to collect the curbside debris.
“Anything that was within that flood zone would be part of the route.” said Wagner. “There may be more damage in the red zone but even on the periphery of that there are still materials needed to be picked up.”
Wagner explained that the crew coordinates scans the flood affected zones for clean up activity. The information the crew gathers tells them where to focus their pick ups.
“There are volunteer groups that have come to town and are working with residents to clean their homes so we see specific sections in town where there are a lot of work occurring in a week or so,” “They will target that area more frequently because there is much more material being generated.”
The crew will segregate recyclable materials from the debris. Ideally, there would be three piles for the crew to pick up which includes metal, wood, and household garbage.
“We’re asking the citizens to do the best they can to keep the materials separated so the crews can be more efficient with their collection.” Wagner explained.
“If that can be done before it goes to the curbside then that’s always welcomed.”
Wagner also noted the threat of hazardous materials.
“Most of these houses were built prior to 1990 and could contain asbestos in different building products like drywall and insulation. That poses another hazard to both the workers and the public so they’ve been separating that from the waste streams.”
According to Wagner, as soon as the service ends, residents can expect to pay a dumpster fee of $160/ ton of waste. Residents would also need to arrange for their own waste pick up.
“We suggest that if there were people who needed to do this cleanup and demolition type of work to try and get it done before the end of April and take advantage of the funding that was available to that date.”