Today's Spectator reports that Councillors Chad Collins and Russ Powers have proposed a resolution to the City's waste management controversy that they believe will break the impasse and win the support of Council:
A proposal from Hamilton councillors Chad Collins and Russ Powers to maintain the city's existing one-bag limit with weekly pickup is expected to win nearly unanimous support Tuesday at a special committee session.
As part of the pitch, Hamilton homeowners would annually receive some 26 tags free of charge to cover each additional bag of garbage left at the curb. As well, city residents will see weekly leaf and yard waste pickup extended year-round and would be able to book weekly bulk pickup on a year-round basis.
So residents will continue to have weekly pickup with a one-container limit - except that we'll also get enough tags to put out an extra container every other week, all year.
This compromise is a cop-out designed to avoid controversy, not to address the real problem of waste management. The best thing we can say about it is that it might not make Hamilton's mediocre 49 percent waste diversion rate any worse.
It also doesn't make it any better, which is the whole purpose of the City's Solid Waste Management Master Plan Review, the first Guiding Principle of which states:
The City of Hamilton must lead and encourage the changes necessary to adopt the principle of Waste Minimization.
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson has the right idea in arguing instead for a move to bi-weekly collection with a three bag limit and bulk pickup.
Ferguson said that plan would save an additional $1.2 million annually over the compromise plan and divert 6 percent more waste.
This approach would divert more waste than a one-container weekly limit, while reducing the cost of garbage collection and reducing the need for active enforcement. It sounds like a no-brainer, but several councillors have backpedaled from it like a garbage can filled with rotting food.
The reason Councillors are balking is that they're afraid some residents will see this as a service reduction. Diapers and dog poop have emerged as potent symbols of this fear, but the evidence from other jurisdictions - like Halton, which just accelerated past Hamilton's stagnant diversion rate - is that this is not really a problem.
The Solid Waste Management Master Plan calls on Council to "lead and encourage the changes necessary" to minimize waste. The best solution is as obvious for our decision-makers to implement as it is straightforward for residents to adopt, but Council is operating from timidity, not tenacity.
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