Column: Bi-Weekly Garbage Pickup

The first big issue and the first truly contentious vote is now upon me. Prior to being elected, I had always stated that as a Councillor, I would work for the four years and worry about the next election when the time comes. I would not react to a few comments threatening me with lost votes; that is no way to govern and I believe you expect more from your representative. I never promised to make every resident happy on every issue; it’s impossible. My job is to gather information from you, learn about the facts on any given issue and take a leadership role in making my decision. My decisions may anger some and may make others happy, but that is the Councillor I said I was going to be. While you may not agree with me all the time, I will continue to be honest with you on each and every issue that comes up. Having said all of that, let’s get to the issue…

Bi-weekly Garbage Pickup

Last week, I outlined my experience with bi-weekly garbage pickup and now, the City has released the results of the consultation conducted in recent months. The City of Ottawa’s Solid Waste Service Level Review report from last week contained recommended changes to residential, curb-side waste collection services that are expected to save taxpayers $9 million annually or a 10 per cent reduction from the current tax bill associated with waste collection.

The staff report provides service level recommendations for the next collection contract, which would begin summer of 2012, and would:

- Provide a consistent level of service to all parts of the City;
- Implement weekly green bin pickup year-round;
- Keep Blue and Black bin pickup as is;
- Pick up residual waste every two weeks; and
- Implement a special diaper and incontinence products pick up program for those who need it on the alternate week of residual waste pick up, at no extra cost.

These recommendations result from an in-depth study into solid waste collection best practices in other jurisdictions and a rigorous public consultation process over the past two months.

I have also personally conducted public meetings and kept this issue at the forefront since January. The feedback I have received shows that those who use the Green Bin or are regular composters support bi-weekly pickup and those that oppose bi-weekly pickup either do not currently have a green bin or are opposed to using it. The feedback has been essentially a 50/50 split and I am inclined to support those who have shown an effort to support preserving our landfills and reducing the amount of waste that goes into them.

This is not a referendum on the green bin program itself. I agree that the contract leaves little to be desired but it is the reality we are left to deal with and my job is to make the cost of it less onerous on the taxpayer. This proposal puts money back in your pocket and reduces the amount of garbage trucks you see on a weekly basis by 50%. A similar program was introduced this year in Gatineau and the municipality saw a dramatic increase in waste diversion and did not see the rise in garbage dumping that many are worried about. Please continue to provide feedback as changes can still be made to address unique concerns.

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If you have any questions on these or any other issues, please contact me at Scott.Moffatt@ottawa.ca or by phone at 613-580-2491. Also, be sure to visit RideauGoulbourn.ca for up-to-date information on news and events in Rideau-Goulbourn.