Chamber wants private bids considered for recycling program

By Geoff Smith (@smithco on Twitter)
May 2, 2017 - 10:19am Updated: May 2, 2017 - 11:11am

LETHBRIDGE - The executive director of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce says the city doesn't have all the information it needs to decide whether curbside recycling should be operated in-house or contracted out.

The chamber is calling on the city to solicit bids, using a Request for Proposals (RFP), to determine whether a private company could operate the service more efficiently, for less money. Executive director Karla Pyrch said in an interview that without that process there's simply no way to know.

"We think it's very important that the city consider private options when they look at providing services for the city of Lethbridge," Pyrch said. "If it comes back and they find that they are the best option for providing the services, then that would be worth something looking at."

Part of the problem, Pyrch feels, is that the city only looked at local recycling providers, in their current capacity, when weighing the options.

"They haven't given other companies, coming from out of town, the opportunity to put in proposals, nor have they given our local companies the opportunity to ramp up their business to provide those services."

The chamber has released a policy position, based on the principles that the city should not compete with private business, that it should explore all options, that a majority of people surveyed favour an RFP, that private industry has a natural need to innovate, and that not considering private bids violates the city's strategic plan.

"When you look at private business, the motivation to be profitable and to find efficiencies is always there or they won't maintain their business," Pyrch said. "When you look at the city, it's possible that those efficiencies aren't there. They can look at increasing taxpayer costs to support those services, without looking at those efficiences."

She added even with the need to make a profit, a private company might still be able to operate more efficiently for the taxpayers, but the city can't know if it doesn't ask.

The chamber made a presentation to city council in March calling on it not to compete with private industry. It has since forwarded its specific policy paper on the recycling proposal.

Curbside recycling program coming together on schedule

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