/MH looks into reduced household garbage bag limits

MH looks into reduced household garbage bag limits

by James Matthews, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Minden Hills township staff will investigate the possibility of reducing residents’ garbage bag limit.

Council heard Feb. 8 during its regular meeting about possible changes to landfill site user identification cards and cottage kits. And, with the changes, it was suggested bag limits be reduced to better encourage recycling.

Mayor Bob Carter said some more data would be prudent before such changes are hoisted upon residents and cottagers.

Chelsea Cosh, the township’s waste facilities manager, said policy has been updated to include recent administrative changes that have been implemented and to enforce garbage bag allotment in accordance with the municipal waste bylaw.

“Right now residents can bring three bags of garbage, but it’s not easily tracked by our attendants because there is no card to mark off how many residents have brought in,” she said. “Through staffing changes, they can’t enforce this if they’re not familiar that individual had come in the day before.”

Cosh said the township could realize some new revenue from residents paying to have excess bags dumped.

“It also helps to encourage residents to recycle and sort in an attempt to reduce their garbage coming into the site,” Cosh said.

Councillor Tammy McKelvey wondered if this was the proper time to change the residential garbage bag limit.

“I think in the past there was a three-bag limit because there was no way to track,” she said. “And people would take their parents’ garbage with them or their neighbour’s garbage with them.”

If the municipality is going to implement a punch card, McKelvey said she believes it’s time to change the bag limit down to two bags a week.

“Which then also encourages better recycling,” she said.

Carter said he hauls his refuse to the Ingoldsby site. Often there’s a single attendant who is tending to three or four tasks at the same time because somebody is trying to dump some brush and somebody else has some recycled metal.

“You have the fear that the time involved in dealing with these cards is going to be that doable for one person or will it cause untoward delays,” Carter said. “Sometimes, particularly mid-day on a Saturday, it gets pretty crowded from time to time.”

Cosh said the landfill site attendants are required to check the waste disposal card regardless to ensure the resident has a valid card.

“They also are required to do an inspection of the materials coming to make sure that all of our policies are adhered to such as clear bags and to make sure that nothing that isn’t permitted to come in is coming into the site,” she said.

And that’s a minor extra task on the employee to mark the disposal card, she said.

“I don’t see it being a large administrative burden compared to what they’re already currently doing,” Cosh said.

“I understand what you’re saying,” Carter said. “In practice, it really hasn’t been happening that way in the last little while other than the flashing of the blue card from 100 feet away.”

Carter said he’s willing to give it a try, but “there could be some issues.”

Coun. Ivan Ingram said he agreed with McKelvey’s suggestion that the bag limit be lowered. He suggested staff take a look at how many bags other municipalities of comparable size allow for their residents.

Cosh said the program could start July 1 with the waste disposal cards distributed with the final tax bills to property owners.

“So the card will be in effect for one year,” she said.

Then there’s a hope for a transition to digital cards, she said.

“If for some reason we weren’t able to implement that in time, we will issue another physical card that would be in place for another calendar year,” Cosh said.

Coun. Pam Sayne said the township previously had a program by which households had a number of tags for garbage. And she wondered how the card system would compare to the former tags.

“At this time, I think for the next year, I would like to see us stay with the number of bags,” Sayne said. “We have different sized households.”

Seasonal cottagers in the area are provided a flyer that shows transfer station and landfill site hours and explains the municipality’s recycling program and how to sort their trash.

And they’ll get the one-time waste disposal card, she said.

“That card allows any holder to bring in up to three bags of garbage at no change,” Cosh said. “Anything beyond that would be chargeable.”

Those are one-time use cards that are purchased by the registered property owners who issue them to tenants.

Sayne said some households may not deliver their garbage weekly. Perhaps they visit the landfill once a month.

“I think if you have it where you’ve got so many bags per year, that makes up for it,” Sayne said.

“This card is similar to curbside collection,” Cosh said. “However, it’s better than curbside collection because it gives you flexibility. So if you were away for a week, you don’t miss out on putting out your garbage. If you accumulate it for a couple weeks, then you can take those garbage bags in and they’ll mark off how many you’re bringing in.”

Ingram said his family of five people don’t build a single bag of garbage in a week.

“It’s all recycling,” he said. “Bags and bags of recycling so I don’t think it’s out of the realm of reasonableness to shorten (the limit) to two, personally.”

Carter said a report and recommendation from municipal staff is needed to get the facts before such a dramatic change is implemented.
Ingram suggested a one-year trial period be started so staff can better judge the proposed program.

“It’s not that big a deal for one year, I don’t think, really,” he said.