Saanich says it expects to complete its leaf collection program by Jan. 18.
“We’re quite confident that we will have picked up all the leaves that we had originally planned for,” said Steven Wiebe, Saanich’s manager of fleet and solid waste services. “That said, there are usually some calls we receive after finishing the program. In these cases we’ll work with the residents on solutions that are in the best interest of both parties and if need be, add them into our plan for future years.”
The program has been running behind for various reasons.
Wiebe said last week leaves stayed on local trees one to three weeks longer than in years past, depending on the tree species and area.
This delayed the start of leaf collection for two weeks, according to Wiebe. The number of available trucks and other challenges then caused additional delays, he added. While the reasons the leaves remained on trees longer is unknown, Wiebe said climate change could be a factor.
When asked about these challenges, Wiebe said Saanich has a set number of trucks, staff and budget.
“For example, we are not able to go buy or rent extra trucks and hire staff to operate them to finish the program in a shorter time frame than we normally would as this would be quite costly for residents,” he said. “We’re trying to balance providing the service in a timely fashion, minimizing risks such as flooding [because of storm drains plugged by leaves] and utilizing funding in a cost-effective manner.”
Residents whose leaves remain uncollected by Jan. 18 should contact Saanich by phone or email.
Saanich dedicates four re-furbished garbage trucks to collect leaves from residences in the urban containment boundary. Based on the last decade, crews pick up an average of 350 truck loads — an estimated 2,500 tons — from about 29,000 residential households each year.