The City of Merritt council voted June 26 to present the available options for opening and closing the Main Street recycling depot's gates to the public before proceeding further.
Public works superintendent Darrell Finnigan recommended in a report to council that it wait until the 2013 budget to discuss installing an automatic gate system at the depot.
Finnigan outlined two other possibilities: installing an automatic system or hiring a contractor to manually open and close the gates this year.
The automatic gate would cost $19,940 plus tax on installation and $1,000 a year for maintenance, Finnigan reported. The Thompson-Nicola Regional District, jointly responsible for the depot, has agreed to pay for half the cost of installing an automatic gate, he added.
By contrast, a contractor opening and closing the gates by hand would cost $5,580 each year in labour.
Members of council expressed concern that if the City of Merritt does not make any decisions about the recycling depot gates until next year, it could be seen as ignoring the issue.
"When we first ran for council four years ago, it was a hot topic," said Coun. Dave Baker.
Residents near the depot had complained in the past about noise from people dropping off recyclables and others searching for drink containers to return for deposit. The Thompson-Nicola Regional District moved the recycling bin for glass from the Main Street facility to the George Hale Transfer Station in 2011.
Currently, the gates are only used to keep the public out when packing the recycling bins with machinery, said Finnigan.
City chief administrative officer Matt Noble said staff did not consider the gates a priority because they are not in the 2012 budget and the public has not expressed any recent concerns about depot security.
"There've been no complaints that I'm aware of."
"We need to look at some other option right now," Baker said, even if the city chooses a permanent solution later.
Coun. Alastair Murdoch suggested scheduling a committee of the whole meeting to present the available options and allow residents to give their input.
"Let's see if we can't figure something out that will work for everybody."
However, both Murdoch and Mayor Susan Roline agreed that it was important that the public realize the city is taking action on the depot gates.
"They just need to know that we've thought about it, talked about it, and plan to do something, even if it's not until next summer," said Murdoch.