'A massive backlog': Recycling and garbage pickup weeks behind in the Capital Region

View Royal resident Antonio Pacheco has gone five weeks without his curbside recycling being picked-up.

“Well, we’ve had two misses,” said Pacheco.

It’s now piling up in his garage.

“I feel unclear whether we should take our recycling in or continue to leave it out,” said his neighbour.

Russ Smith is the senior manager of environmental resource management, parks and environmental services with the Capital Regional District. He says the answer to that question is to bring it in.

“You’ll have to hold it two weeks until you can bring it out again,” said Smith.

Smith calls the situation a perfect storm.

Our recent snowfall delayed blue box pick-ups. Staffing issues due to covid added more pressures. There was an increase in recycling due to Christmas and now, there has been a mechanical failure at Cascades Recovery on Bridge Street in Victoria.

That is where all the sorting of recycled materials takes place before they’re shipped to the mainland for processing.

“So, that happened yesterday at about 10 a.m. and brought the handling of those materials that are being collected to a halt,” said Smith.

Cascades has the parts on hand to fix the baler machine. It’s expected to be back up and running by Monday.

Blue box pick-ups are still happening, but there is still a major backlog. That means your day could get missed.

Until the machine is fixed, Cascades will not be taking loads from commercial or multi-family housing buildings. The collection of those materials is done by private contractors and not the CRD.

In View Royal, garbage pickups have also been delayed.

“Some residents have gone two, three or possibly even more (weeks) without their garbage being picked up,” said David Screech, View Royal’s mayor.

That municipality contracts its pickups out to Waste Management.

“We have a propane truck that can pick up both the green waste and the regular garbage in the Town of View Royal,” said Screech. “In the middle of December, that broke down.”

Supply chain issues have meant the company can’t get parts for the fix and has had to resort to using smaller, single-use trucks instead. That has put it behind schedule.

Couple that with bad weather and, of course, staffing shortages due to COVID-19.

“That, in general, has just created a massive backlog throughout the town,” said Screech.

But early Thursday morning, garbage reprieve rolled into Pacheco’s View Royal neighbourhood in the form of an overdue garbage truck.

“The cavalry arrived,” said Pacheco. “You know, now we’re saved.”

Both the CRD and the mayor of View Royal are hoping all collections will be caught up by the end of the month.