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BFI Canada Inc. was awarded the contract to collect garbage from 5,270 autobins and 65,000 homes in the south end of Winnipeg starting March 2006. However, the privatization deal isn’t looking so sweet given that even before the contract begins the cost will be 11 per cent more than what the city had anticipated.

The higher cost comes from a rise in fuel prices and a 21 per cent increase in the amount of garbage thrown out by homeowners since 1998, the last year that the contract received bids. The BFI bid is based on the 1998 figures.

CUPE 500 has warned the city that the 11 per cent increase in the south end, combined with a recent 24 per cent increase in the privatized waste collection costs in the northeast area, will put a crush on public funds.

It’s ridiculous what they’re doing here,” says CUPE national representative Greg Mandzuk.

They have a chance to get out of it. We’ll give it our best shot to try to change their minds,” Mandzuk said of the south end deal that was tabled for Mayor Sam Katz’s cabinet on Oct. 19.

Katz was happy to make the announcement but councillor Jenny Gerbasi said the savings of $34.57 per household a year are inflated because they don’t take into account the efficiencies city workers were willing to offer and the increase in costs associated with fuel and garbage volume.

Councillor Jae Eadie asserted that even with cost increases the privatized deal was still better than public waste collection. “It’s still a saving, and we’re going forward. The policy decision was in July, get over it,” said Eadie addressing other councillors.

Getting over the cost increases of privatization may not be so easy for Winnipeg citizens.