If your garbage bin is overfilled, it might not be emptied


Cycling to work on garbage day in our Saanich neighbourhood, I noticed a sprinkling of garbage and kitchen scrap bins that hadn’t been emptied.

Both our bins had been emptied, and many of the bins along our street had been taken back from the curb, so it was clear that the garbage truck had made its rounds. But outside a couple of houses, there were bins with their lids propped open by an overflow of garbage. A third house had a bin with an overflow of yard debris.

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Overfilled Saanich garbage bin
This overfilled Saanich garbage bin was not emptied on garbage day.

I called Saanich municipal hall to find out what was going on, mostly so that I wouldn’t be in the same boat one day.

The practice is to not empty overfilled bins, I was told, because of concern that the contents would spill onto the street. Also, overfilled bins are breaking the rules. There are two garbage bin sizes, and the annual fee to empty the bigger one is higher. If you have more stuff to throw out, you have to pay more. [This paragraph has been corrected: there are two garbage bin sizes (not three) and three kitchen scrap bin sizes.]

Saanich’s garbage website isn’t explicit about not emptying overfilled bins, but does say this: “All material must fit inside the carts with the lids closed free of obstruction.”

Saanich garbage warning tag
An explanatory orange tag stuck to the lid of a garbage bin that was not emptied.

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What can you do if your house is skipped because of an overflowing bin? By the next garbage day, you’ll have twice as much stuff, compounding the problem.

After cruising the Saanich garbage website, I found these possibilities (sneaking garbage into neighbours’ bins is not one of them, and I’m sorry that I even thought of such as shoddy thing):

Make a trip to Hartland landfill, where you’ll need to pay a dumping fee (I did this a few years ago when I forgot to put out the garbage; it was an interesting experience.)

• Buy stickers for pickup of extra bags; they are $3 per bag, with up to 25 kilograms allowed for each one; available at Saanich municipal hall, Saanich recreation centres or the public works yard.

• Sign up for more or bigger bins, and pay for them.

• Call for a special pickup, at a minimum charge of $50 (phone 250-475-5595).

Take extra organics to the Saanich public works yard at 1040 McKenzie Ave (enter off of Borden Street, north of McKenzie).

• Hire a private hauler.

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Saanich garbage guidelines

Saanich greener garbage collection

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If you have unwanted garbage cans because of Saanich’s switch to mandatory bins, Saanich’s website says you can:
• take plastic ones to Syntal Products, 6722 Bertram Place, in Central Saanich; stand them against the chain link fence
• take metal ones to Schnitzer Steel, 307 David Street, in Victoria
The cans must be clean.

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Other jurisdictions probably have similar attitudes about overfilled garbage bins. I haven’t explored the regulations of all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities.

But I did discover that Victoria charges $4 per sticker to pick up an extra bag of garbage. Esquimalt charges $2. Oak Bay has a more complex system. Read about it here.

Victoria has an extensive and, dare I say, entertaining Q&A about garbage and organics collection.

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My previous posts are here.


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