WINNIPEG -- Plans to let City of Winnipeg workers collect some residential trash could be thrown out.

The city purchased garbage trucks and upgraded a storage building for a two-year pilot project that would see city staff pick up garbage from some multi-family homes instead of private contractors.

But councillors are being urged to scrap the pilot.

A report at city hall says the planned two-year pilot project, where city staff would collect garbage from multi-family dwellings in east Winnipeg, should not go ahead. It says the cost to do this is $2.86 million, which $656,000 over budget.

"Our estimates right now say that it would cost more if we bring in-house than if we contracted out," says Moira Greer, director of water and waste.

Union CUPE. who is pushing to have some garbage pickup brought back in-house, says the pilot has to be done first to determine the actual costs.

It doesn't agree with all of the city's numbers.

"Some of the figures there we don't believe should be added to the cost of this project,” says Gord Delbridge from CUPE.

“We think that the cost of this project would be significantly lower."

The mayor's executive policy committee delayed a vote on the matter for 30 days in order to ask city administrators more questions about the pilot and check CUPE's math.

"I'd like to scrutinize those numbers to see if that's true," says Mayor Brian Bowman.

The collaboration between the union and the city stems from a 2018 decision by council to settle a previous grievance.

As a result, the union says the city is obligated to move forward with the pilot.

"Otherwise there's going to be additional legal costs that the taxpayer is going to be on the hook for," says Delbridge.

Bowman is confident this was only to proceed if the project stayed within the agreed budget.

"Council wouldn't, and didn't in my view provide, you know, an unlimited amount to study it," says Bowman.

Legal issues aside, the city has already spent $100,000 on start-up costs including upgrades to a storage building. It also purchased garbage trucks in 2018 for the project. It says it can sell them to recoup costs if need be.

"I don't know if it's 100 per cent, but it would be close to. We're confident of that," says Greer.

The pilot project is behind schedule. It was supposed to begin Feb.1.