Garbage trucks in the Halifax Regional Municipality are getting an upgrade in an effort to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists who pass nearby.
Halifax regional council voted 16-1 Tuesday in favour of adding side guards to curbside collection trucks and condominium collection trucks.
Municipal staff estimated it would cost $221,405 to add side guards to the trucks, which are owned by GFL Environmental and REgroup. The companies have contracts with the HRM to collect waste.
Coun. Waye Mason voted in favour the side guards, saying it would be a good investment for the municipality. Mason said there had been a few fatalities and injuries over the last few decades where someone was pulled underneath a waste collection truck.
“They don’t save everybody but they help make sure that a lot of folks that in certain circumstances, whether its pedestrians walking on the side of the road or people on bikes, that they don’t get pulled underneath the back wheels of a truck,” said Mason.
Coun. Russell Walker had a problem with the proposal. He said he didn’t like public funds being spent on private businesses that work on a contract basis.
“Here we have taxpayers’ money being spent on a private business and in two years’ time they could all leave and the new fleet come in, and are we going to do it again?” Walker said.
Walker decided to vote in favour of adding side guards because of the safety benefits.
Coun. Steve Streatch was the only council member to vote against side guards. He said the proposal should have focused on more than just solid waste collection trucks, including snowplows and dump trucks.
“I am going to vote against this today for many reasons and, if for none other, than just my distaste for how this whole thing has been handled right from the beginning,” said Streatch.
Pay now or later
Matt Kelleher, manager of Halifax solid waste, said they are going to put the side guards on all municipal solid waste collection vehicles for at least two years. He said when the next proposal goes to council they can look into providing side guards for all big trucks used within HRM.
Kelleher said municipal money being spent on side guards isn’t an issue.
“At the end of the day, when it comes to solid waste vehicles, the municipality pays for all upgrades for those vehicles at the beginning of an operating term,” said Kelleher.
Coun. Sam Austin said side guards are important because they will protect vulnerable road users. The HRM can afford the project and solid waste collection trucks drive up and down every street in the municipality, he added.
“We are able to do this now. I see no reason to delay something that we are going to have to pay for later on anyway,” said Austin.