Yesterday's vote was all about making a contentious issue go away, rather than actually achieving the City's goal of maximizing waste diversion.
By Ryan McGreal
Published February 22, 2012
The General Issues Committee (GIC, formerly the committee of the whole) voted 12-3 yesterday to continue weekly garbage pickup, rejecting the staff recommendation to move to bi-weekly garbage pickup combined with weekly recycling and green bin pickup.
In addition to the one-container limit, the city will issue tags allowing residents to put out another 26 containers of garbage a year, or an average of one additional container every two weeks.
The staff recommendation would have increased waste diversion rates from 49 percent to 55 percent and further extending the life of the Glanbrook Landfill, while saving the city $3.6 million a year.
The plan approved yesterday will cost $1.4 million more than the staff recommendation and will, if anything, result in an actual reduction in the city's waste diversion rate after a decade of steady improvement.
Policy should be driven by evidence, not fear, but it is abundantly clear that Council chose the path of least resistance rather than the path of best practice. This vote was all about making a contentious issue go away, rather than actually achieving the City's goal of maximizing waste diversion.
It is unconscionable that Council would increase the allowable limit by 50 percent in response to a 3 percent non-compliance rate with the one-bag limit - especially when a cheaper, more effective solution is waiting on the table.
Councillors who supported the decision argued that bi-weekly garbage pickup "imposes a decrease of quality of life" because it "subjects residents to odor issues", as Sam Merulla argued yesterday on twitter.
Bi-weekly garbage pickup is actually non-punitive, in that it establishes a built-in incentive for residents to divert compostable waste out of the trash without the need for enforcement. Halton Region moved to bi-weekly pickup over a year ago and has already reached 60 percent waste diversion.
The only odorous waste that cannot be composted - diapers and dog waste - can easily be stored in a container with a lid, even in an inner-city home without a garage or a large lot.
Given all of the media attention around illegal dumping, it may come as a surprise that there is no actual evidence that dumping has increased since the one-bag limit came into effect.
Staff note that the number of complaints related to dumping has gone up, but due to the way dumped garbage is cleaned, they have not been able to confirm an increase in actual volumes.
In other words, the illegal dumping "crisis" may be nothing more than an artifact of cognitive bias: people are more likely to notice events they're already thinking about.
What staff can report is that three quarters of the illegally dumped garbage they clean is not residential in origin, which suggests that rescinding the one-container limit will not make much of a difference.
Here is the vote breakdown, according to the report:
Yea: Brad Clark, Chad Collins, Jason Farr, Tom Jackson, Sam Merulla, Bernie Morelli, Judi Partridge, Maria Pearson, Rob Pasuta.
Nay: Lloyd Ferguson, Brenda Johnson, Brian McHattie.
Absent: Mayor Bob Bratina
Kudos to Councillors Ferguson, Johnson and McHattie for voting based on best practice rather than expediency.
Councillors still have to ratify this vote at a Council meeting, so this is your last chance to provide feedback on the plan.
Here is the text of the motion that the GIC approved yesterday, as stated in GIC Report 12-005:
Waste Collection and Procurement Processes 2013-2020 (Item 8.1)
That Project 3 be approved as the Preferred Waste Collection System as follows:
(a) That the City's Waste Collection System commencing April 1, 2013 Consist of the following-services:
(i) Weekly collection of Organic Waste;
(ii) Weekly collection of one (1) container of Garbage per residential unit;
(iii) Weekly Leaf and Yard Waste collection;
(iv) Weekly call-in Bulk Waste collection for curbside collection and weekly call-in collection of Bulk Waste for multi-residential buildings;
(v) Weekly two-stream collection of Recyclable Materials;
(vi) Weekly two-stream Automated Recycling Cart collection;
(vii) Weekly front-end Bin Service for Garbage collection;
(viii) Supply of front-end Bin Containers for Recyclable Fibres and weekly front-end Bin Service for Recyclable Fibres collection;
(ix) Multi-day collection of Public Space Litter Containers.and Public Space Recycling Containers;
(b) That the waste collection system in (a) include the following refinements:
(i) Collection of up to 26 containers of Garbage per residential unit per year through a curbside tag system;
(ii) Permit the use of alternative recycling containers to reduce escaped waste;
(iii) Supply of front-end garbage bin containers for garbage collection at municipal facilities;
(iv) Continue with Special Considerations for households with children, medical circumstances, home day cares and agricultural properties of up to three (3) containers weekly through a curb side tag system;
(v) Bulk waste reuse events as a pilot program; and
(vi) Phase in of smaller green carts;
(c) That the Special Considerations provisions in the Solid Waste Management By-law 09-067 be amended to allow for families with two (2) children under the age of four (4) to be eligible for Special Consideration;
(d) That appropriate amendments to Solid Waste Management By-law 09-067 be enacted to implement recommendations (a), (b) and (c);
(e) That GFL Environmental East Corporation, be selected as the Successful Proponent for:
(i) Project 3 of Request for Proposals C11-30-11 which is comprised of:
1. Weekly collection of Organic Waste in Zones B1, B2 and B3;
2. Weekly collection of one container of Garbage per residential unit in Zones B1, B2 and B3;
3. Weekly Leaf and Yard Waste collection in Zones B1, B2 and B3;
4. Weekly call-in Bulk Waste Curbside collection and weekly collection of Bulk Waste for multi-residential buildings in Zones B1, B2 and B3;
5. Weekly two-stream collection of Recyclable Materials City-wide;
6. Weekly two-stream Automated Recycling Cart collection City-wide;
7.Weekly front-end Bin Service for Garbage collection City-wide;
8. Supply of front-end Bin Containers for Recyclable Fibres and weekly front-end Bin Service for Recyclable Fibres collection City-wide;
9. Multi-day collection of Public Space Litter Containers and Public-Space Recycling Containers in Zones B1, B2 and B3; and
(ii) Additional Work identified in Request for Proposals. Cll-30-11 including:
1. A garbage tag system to supplement the curbside garbage collection program;
2. Collection of blue boxes with lids and larger blue boxes;
3. The supply of bin containers at municipal facilities; and
4. Bulk waste reuse events, at the discretion of the City;
(g) That the contract period be seven (7) years commencing April 1, 2013 with the potential extension of one (1), one (1) year term;
(g) That the General Manager of Public Works be authorized and directed to finalize the terms and conditions of the agreement with GFL Environmental East Corporation in accordance with the provisions of Request for Proposals C11-30-11;
(h) That the Mayor and City Clerk be authorized and directed to execute the agreement with GFL Environmental East Corporation, together with any necessary documents, in a form satisfactory to the City Solicitor;
(i) That Capital Project 5121294500 Recycling Program- Vehicle Acquisition and Facility Modification, which was parked duringthe 2012 Capital Budget process be withdrawn from further consideration and the 2012 Capital Financing Strategy be amended to reflect a lower reliance on Future Fund financing;
(J) That the Operations & Waste Management Division be authorized to increase the Waste Collection Operator staff complement by no more than twelve (12) full time employees commencing in 2013; and
(k) That the Outstanding Business Items referring to Waste Collection and Recycling Processing Procurement Processes for 2013-2020 as well as Activity Based Costing for Public Sector Waste Collection 2013-2020 be identified as completed and removed from the Public Works Committee Outstanding Business List.
On a Motion the following was added as sub-section (I):
(I) That staff be directed to report to the General Issues Committee on the performance of the tag system over the period of April 2013 to April 2014 by August 2014 including details of the performance of the program in general, whether or not there has been an increase or decrease in waste diversion, illegal dumping and the possibility of introducing a cost to the tag system.
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