By Fred Langan
The new contract for garbage collection has many residents upset and it is causing frayed nerves at the Town Hall. The three-year contract with the previous garbage collection firm, Matrec, expired at the end of last year. The new firm, Ricova, had a rocky start, missing some pickups and there were reports that its drivers mixed garbage with recycling. The mayor said in an interview that the problem ‘has been rectified’.
“The quality of service is not acceptable to us yet,” said Mayor Richard Burcombe, in a video sent out following an avalanche of complaints to the Town Hall. The mayor was shocked at the level of abuse directed at him and the receptionist who answers the phone.
“It’s unacceptable that some citizens are making threats to our administrative staff, especially the receptionist,” said Burcombe.
Many of the emails sent to the mayor questioned the process by which the new contract was awarded. Matrec came in with an offer of $2.877 million; Ricova at $2.185 million.
“It was $690,000 lower or $230,000 a year over the three-year contract,” said Mayor Burcombe in an interview. “The bid conformed to the rules and we were obliged to accept it under provincial law. Blame the (provincial) government, not us.”
That law was changed following the Charbonneau Commission into the construction industry. The law has the unintended consequence of forcing lowball bids to be accepted, regardless of the reputation of the firm involved.
“They (Ricova) do not have a great reputation,” said Mayor Burcombe. There have been articles in the Montreal press and a major documentary on Radio-Canada, detailing sloppy practices by Ricova. One charge dealt with recycling but the recycling from the Town of Brome Lake is handled in Granby, not Montreal.
The mayor says the town has warned Ricova that it is monitoring garbage, recycling and compost collection service. “We follow every truck by GPS,” he said.