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Update to residents on changes to curbside collection

(Fort McMurray, AB – May 12, 2020) – on March 23, 2020, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced changes to the curbside collection program, in response to COVID-19. Since then, other adjustments to curbside collection have been put in place, in response to the April 2020 flood and the transition to spring operations. At this time, we’d like to provide a comprehensive statement from Matthew Hough, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, on the changes to the curbside collection program in our region.

Matthew Hough, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer

“As a region, we have faced several challenges over the last few months. COVID-19 and the April 2020 Flood are two examples of these challenges. In response to both emergencies, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our Municipal operations and specifically, to our curbside collection program. While I recognize these changes have caused inconvenience for some residents, they are critical to conducting safe, efficient operations and essential for ensuring we can continue to provide core services to our community.

Below I have outlined some of the changes we’ve made to the curbside collection program, and why those changes have been made.”


“On March 23, 2020, the recycling program in the region was temporarily put on hold. Residents were asked to begin bagging their garbage and recycling materials together and to place bags inside of any two collection bins for weekly pickup. This decision was a response to COVID-19 and was made to protect employees in the Solid Waste Services Branch.

While we have the ability to collect curbside collection bins with fully automated trucks, we do not have a fully automated sorting process at our Material Recovery Facility. All recycling materials at the Material Recovery Facility need to be hand sorted by employees, and this operation puts our staff at a heightened risk for exposure to COVID-19.

The health and safety of our staff is a top priority, and we are taking every step to minimize their exposure to the virus.

Another consideration to this unique challenge is staff shortages. The City of Edmonton – while having the automated processes to safely sort material – is landfilling more material due to shortage of staff. Here at the RMWB, we’ve transitioned to an essential services approach to operations, to ensure we can continue to provide core services to the community. By temporarily suspending recycling operations, the Solid Waste Services Branch is able to use the additional resources to maintain core functions such as curbside waste collection and landfill operations.  

Storing recycling materials until a time when the recycling program can be re-instated, is one idea that has come up often, and I thank the community for proposing potential solutions to the unique challenges we are facing. Unfortunately, storing this material is not an option for us at this time, as we do not have that level of storage capacity to keep this material on-site.

We do not have a timeline in place for when we can resume recycling operations, but I assure you we are committed to providing all services again as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Flood recovery

“On May 1, the Municipality announced the re-opening of the residential scale at the landfill, and the waiving of landfill fees to help support the community during flood recovery efforts.   

The waived landfill fees apply to both residential and commercial waste.

For a limited time from May 2-4, collection crews were picking up three bins of residential waste in flood-affected areas.

Residents affected by the flood now have access to additional resources for waste disposal, including curbside collection of large debris and the option to request a Bagster be delivered to their homes.

We’re working to assist those who have been affected by the flood as best as possible, while also continuing to keep core collection and landfill operations running safely.

Yard waste collection

“Last week, we announced that yard waste collection would begin May 12. Crews are now out collecting yard waste material. This year, as a response to COVID-19, we are asking residents to place yard waste inside of the dark blue collection bin for pickup. This will eliminate the need for our crews to physically handle the bins and will help increase their safety as they provide this core service to our community. 

Crews will continue to pick up two bins of mixed garbage and recycling each week, but we now ask that the bagged, mixed garbage and recycling be placed inside of the black and light blue bins.

All bins should be placed at the curb before 7:30 a.m. on your regularly scheduled collection day.”


“I thank you for your continued support as we move forward in working through these unique and unprecedented times.”


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FLOOD RECOVERY: Information and resources