February 26th, 2017

Citizens want a say on recycling

By Letter to the Editor on February 16, 2017.

Our citizen group wrote the mayor and council regarding a request for a citizens assembly (you know, the council citizens assembly on wages and fulltime positions) on the question of residential curbside recycling. His response was that there would be no citizens assembly and that people would have to take it up in this fall’s election.

In reference to the last election and the environment group question to candidates in the Greensence survey found on the website Lethbridge Accountability: “will you support residential curbside recycling?”, the mayor’s response in a letter to me was that the candidates that said yes to curbside recycling got elected, the “no” were defeated.

The question citizens are asking with the November 2016 new council vote on curbside recycling, blue cart and materials resorting facility, why the flip-flop, “changed my mind” vote and the lack of a common-sense type of governance. I’m wondering if the survey question influenced how they voted. The committee is wondering why this question came back up again.

The reason for our request is that there has been no proper stakeholder public forum with the residential group, yet council allowed four workshops with the industrial, commercial and construction-demolition group, and the city-chosen committee is holding three meetings with the private contractors. We see in the finance committee session on capital spending there will be public forums to discuss how you want to spend your money. Probably the allied arts survey will ask the question to the candidates, “Will you support the $75-million performing arts centre?”

Citizens, you must speak out; you must have costs regarding curbside recycling, and the opt-out provision. Why would you pay $20-$30 for a blue cart when you can use the new $5-million recycle depots for nothing? There’s no common sense.

Ken Ikle

Spokesperson for Committee for Government Affairs


17 Responses to “Citizens want a say on recycling”

  1. gs172 says:

    It makes me chuckle to read these letters. Do they really think they’re going to stop it? Of the countless municipalities and towns that have gone to curbside recycling I’ve yet to hear of all hell breaking loose afterwards. Lets give Airdrie a hand they’re getting theirs this spring, but noooo Lethbridge can’t do that. Almost all the letters complain about the commercial and industrial users and the amount of waste they contribute and I agree something must be done about that as well, but to say residential recycling can’t be first to be implemented first is akin to having 2 kids arguing about Johnny doesn’t have to do that so I won’t either.

    Kudos to the city for finally making a decision on this. As far as polls are concerned you can word those things to make the sky is red and the sun rises in the west. Believe me I got called by one of them and they worded it like your utilities are going to double and your service will suffer immensely. I
    followed up with the city and got some credible information. The recycling depots are not FREE and last weekend when I did do my recycling on Saturday the north side ones were overflowing and I had to go to the west side one not that I minded much but that tells me how much this service would be used. Try living with someone who had curbside recycling for 20 years in Red Deer and she loved it!
    It’s finally coming here and I can’t wait!

    • HaroldP says:

      GS72, Where have you been? Or do you even live in Lethbridge? Let me educate you or refresh your memory….. The City of Lethbridge and the residents ARE committed to recycling, and that is why we have three (million dollar) recycling depots throughout the city…..soon to be another one built on the south end of the west side. The recycle depots, was the decision of City Council of the day, and it is serving us very well…..for those that can not make it to the recycle depots for various reasons, can, if they wish contract with anyone of three or four of the private curbside recycling operators. Where do you see a problem or concern with this exiting diversion strategy which has been working so well for the past years? Are you simply in favor of City Council “dictating” and parenting us on how we should conduct our personal affairs? I hope not!

      • onlymyopinion says:

        Harold, while I have mixed feelings on this issue-as in the city does know how to waste money-can you please stop telling people to use the private curbside recyclers. They are NOT as affordable as you alwasy indicate plus the people using them still have to pay the current recycling fees to the city. This makes their cost in excess of $21 per month. I know one thing-I do not drive and if my 76 year old husband is no longer able to drive I will no longer be recycling ANYTHING if curbside is not instituted.

        • Montreal13 says:

          city website, p.68- appendixB: budget for Lethbridge Municipal collection of trash & recyclables

          refuse vs. recyclables(that’s the way they have it spelled)
          collection costs (note: many of the costs in this study have been estimated.)

          Look up for a complete picture , here is some highlights,very few examples,

          cart technician: $78,593 wage
          organics center: $1,329,360
          recycleable collection per month: $9.44

          These are just a very,very few of the ESTIMATES.
          This was done by skumotz economic research associates.inc.
          Email the councilors, Liz,Ryan,Rob, Bridget, Blaine orJeff Carlson etc. and ask them to explain and go over it with you. Please report back to us here with their response,if any.
          a friend of mine has private service for her curbside, it costs her $15.00 per month. There is different arrangements /levels of service.

      • Montreal13 says:

        The recycling depots will ALL remain open and useable even if the city operated curbside goes thru. There will be a “pilot” project next year. The city’s own figures are a maintenance cost of $300,000 each per year ,per recycling depot. There will be 4 recycling depots. I do not see where these figures are on their recyclables collection estimate of costs chart. It is NOT listed, so the recycling depots cost and maintenance is an additional cost or is tied in some other way. .
        Thank you Mr. Ikle and Mr. P. for some additional facts.

  2. Fescue says:

    An exquisitely crafted stream-of-consciousness prose-poem, Ken. Kafkaesque in function with hints of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in form.

  3. Montreal13 says:

    “4 factors that influence people’s attitudes toward facts

    By Vicki Krueger • February 16, 2017

    The simple but frustrating truth is that facts alone are not enough to provide context and clarity for your audience. Even the most thorough, accurate piece of reporting might still be trumped by a poorly reasoned and false counterargument.

    Decades of research into the way humans process information and deal with misinformation and propaganda show that people are more inclined to believe things that are in line with their existing views — even if proven truth contradicts their beliefs.

    Here are some factors that make it difficult to convince people of facts.

    Selective Exposure: We tend to gravitate toward — and even seek out — sources and information that fit with our existing views. Even with a multitude of sources available online, people do not actively seek out information that contradicts what they believe.

    The Backfire Effect: People do not view contrary evidence with a sense of detachment. When we become invested in a point of view or a set of facts about the world or ourselves, contrary evidence causes us to double down on our beliefs. When challenged, we react. We don’t reason. This means that it matters how journalists present contradictory evidence. (For additional background, see The Backfire Effect, a column from the Columbia Journalism Review by Craig Silverman.)

    Motivated Reasoning: We think we’re being rational about what we read, but we are ruled by emotion on things we care about. We tend to cherry-pick experts’ opinions and select statistics that back up our beliefs. This may seem like a totally conscious act, and it can be. But it can also occur on a subconscious level. We often don’t realize that we are naturally gravitating toward “facts” and other material that fits with what we already believe — practicing selective exposure.

    Illusion of Truth: Familiar claims start to seem true over time. This explains why message saturation (or propaganda) can have such a powerful effect on people and why even seemingly ineffective ads or ridiculous claims can be potent. Recognizing this phenomenon means that, as journalists, we need to be cautious about how we choose to express false claims when attempting to debunk them.

    Taken from Getting It Right: Accuracy and Verification in the Digital Age, a self-directed course by Craig Silverman at Poynter NewsU. You can also join our Poynter NewsU webinar with Silverman, Investigating the Internet: How to Sniff Out Scams.”


    Even though these and many , many other facts from many different people and the city’s own waste department have come to light over and over again. But some on council are set on going with their personal fan base. Why do you think?
    Quote with more facts:
    By Letter to the Editor on January 21, 2017.

    In 2014, I wrote a letter regarding recycling basically reminding folks that private curbside recycling exists through the private sector for those who want the convenience of such a service.

    Since then, city council has voted on whether to implement mandatory curbside recycling on a number of occasions and, until recently, the vote has been against mandatory recycling.

    That state of affairs has recently changed even though nothing else has changed in that, for example, there are still private firms doing recycling, the majority of landfill waste still comes from commercial waste and most citizens still use the three recycling centres that millions of dollars have been spent on. In fact, according to the February 2013 survey that city council often refers to in arguing for recycling, only one per cent of citizens indicated that they didn’t recycle at all. Not only that, but 87 per cent also indicated that they used the community recycling facilities. In short, the current recycling facilities are working extremely well.

    Faron Ellis of the Lethbridge College conducted a survey in February 2015, some two years later, using about the same number of respondents as was used in the city survey but asked some questions that weren’t asked previously. In particular, the survey asked what citizens thought about alternating bi-weekly garbage collection with bi-weekly curbside recycling collection and the result was that 65.4 per cent of citizens were against this option which is the very option that the current city council has approved in their recent “change of mind” resolution. The report also indicated: “É a substantial majority of Lethbridge residents (66.2 per cent) support the status quo (no new curbside service) preferring to use the existing recycling depots or private-sector options.”

    The moral of the story is that the view of the minority holds more sway with this council than those of the majority of our citizens.

    Rajko Dodic


  4. brooke says:

    What and who is the Committee of Government Affairs? I’m not sure I’m familiar with that particular governance model, or is this the start of a slate of like-minded candidates in advance of the municipal election.

    • Fescue says:

      The Committee of Government Affairs is a small group of people who represent anyone who agrees with them or, from their more delusional perspective, the majority of the citizens of Lethbridge.

      I am completely aligned with Mayor Spearman who says that these fellows can raise their issue at the next election in the fall. I share your curiosity if this is just an typical anti-tax tantrum to get public attention for when they run for a council position (Harold and George have previously thrown their hats into the electoral race). I expect that they will discover that most people are in favor of the city providing this service.

      • HaroldP says:

        Fescue, “delusional perspective”? Wow, I never knew that recognition of factual information and careful review of same by accredited sources was a “delusional perspective”!

        In the interest of time and conscience, I am copying the reasons why your alignment with “Mayor Spearman” may be of poor decision: This is what Mayor Spearman stated,

        1. The considerable investment of millions to build and operate a material recovery facility (MRF) could not be justified in terms of resulting environmental or cost benefits compared to other options.
        2. The commodity has little value. Our revenue after shipping cost for recyclables for each of the last 6 years has been exactly zero with no immediate prospects for improvements in recycling commodity markets.
        3. There are currently a number of means to recycle blue-box materials, including three City recycling depots and private curbside pickup providers. Pre-sorted material avoids the cost of building and operating the MRF.
        4. A blue cart program would not significantly increase our city’s waste diversion. With 26 % of household waste compromising of recyclables, we were told there would only be gradual improvement over a number of years.
        5. A Blue Cart program would not increase the amount of materials that are being recycled as dramatically as a Green Cart (organics) would.
        6. An organics program will make a greater positive impact to the environment. They create the largest portions of methane gas and leachate which pollute the air and water.
        7. Almost half of all household waste is organic. An alternating pickup program of household waste and organics is more compatible and would minimize over-filling of waste bins. Organic materials can be converted into fertilizer for use here in Southern Alberta. They don’t have to be shipped long distances to markets.
        8. Our community needs to be fully educated on the recycling options and should have more opportunities for feedback before we make a final decision.
        In short, our residents would benefit from lower costs, a better return on their money, a higher rate of waste diversion and a more positive impact on our environment by implementing Green Cart program instead of Blue Cart.
        Chris Spearman – Mayor of Lethbridge
        February 10, 2015

        Fescue, it is factual that Mayor Spearman “flip flopped” and on November 28th, 2016 voted “Yes” to Blue Cart………….. perhaps it is “delusional” to be “completely aligned” with Mayor Spearman who does not appear to have a stable base on this and other issues in our community.

      • snoutspot4 says:

        @Fescue: It has been more than clear that this small group misrepresents itself as the majority of citizens in town. And yes, the main players have been singularly unsuccessful in bids for City Council. I did not vote for them before, and I have no intention of doing so in the fall. I agree that if these individuals want declare their candidacy and run on a platform that includes the multitude of issues that Harold, George. Mel et al. have brought up over the last 4 years, then they should do so. It’s getting very old to read campaign slogans disguised as Letters to the Editor and then the rants. At a minimum as candidates, the folks involved would have to declare their financial conflicts of interest with respect to promoting private businesses as the solution to the status quo on curb side recycling. Oooh… Perhaps they will provide a once-monthly voucher so that citizens can rent a vehicle from one of their companies to transport recycling to those “oh so conveniently located free facilities.”

        • Mike says:

          A low class response to Ken’s letter. Snoutspot, you might want to sit in on a couple of this group’s meeting before you shoot generalities from the hip. The Mayor’s flip flop is in the public record. The why is not. I still think that back door politics is what drove the change of heart.
          Shooting the messengers who simply want transparency and the opportunity to take this to the people is a sign of an elitist. If our American cousins are to give us any lessons learned, your arrogance will cause more trouble in the longer term.

          • Fescue says:

            Probably a bit spurious to say the Mayor has changed his position. From my observations of the process, the Mayor has always supported curbside recycling. He argued that collecting compostable waste as a first stage would have been more effective, but has since accepted the general will to collect recyclable materials as a first stage. Not exactly a ‘flip flop’; more of a change of sequence towards the same goal – a goal that I support for $7 per month.

        • Fescue says:

          It looks like we need a little more transparency from the self-declared guardians of transparency, snoutspot4.

    • HaroldP says:

      Brooke, Committee of Government Affairs is a body of concerned residents who, in an informed, rational approach, raise issue on either side (for or against) regarding crucial matters in our city.
      We are definitely NOT a slate of like-minded candidates in advance of the municipal election. The Committee has been in existence for many years…..and it seems will have be well into the future based on how our Mayor and City Council are making decisions and agenda proposals. Brooke, stay tuned as the Committee will soon be circulating a petition to have residents sign in opposition to the City Council Motion to institute Mandatory Curbside Recycling operated by the City, with no provision to “opt out” And for the construction of the estimated $14,000,000.00 Material Recycling Plant. Interested in signing the petition, please call 403-381-0038.

  5. already extinct says:

    Personally I think the fact the people of Lethbridge have held off a do nothing for the environment charade for as long as they have bodes well for them.

    Anyone who believes shipping liquor boxes & tomato cans et al to India & China (to be made into more junk shipped back to Banff then sold as trinkets) does anything to control anthropologic pollution or save the environment are delusional of the extreme!

    This city currently has a cost effective option in place right now for those with a desire to have their crap picked up from their hand at the door – YES RIGHT NOW! Private businesses provide a fine at the door/garage/curb blue box service! But these small businessmen who are on the cusp of watching helplessly as their businesses are wiped out by an army much bigger than them, don’t have a union speaking, guiding, coaching and manipulating democratically (?) elected officials (and an apparent sizable portion of a misinformed and trusting populace) – that’d be your $360,000 a year lead-hand in the City managers office.

    But the bottom line is recycling generally has a larger impact on the environment (and this is about the environment isn’t it Mayor Spearman – orrrrrrr is it?) especially those extremely small portions (6.5% in the case of Lethbridge) coming from households.

    Of course the story changes quite considerably if this administration were to embark on the very tough task of corralling the massive amounts of wood, cardboard, plastics, metal, and everything else (3.79 times more) arriving at the scales at LRLF, from Industry, Commercial, Institutional, Construction & Demolition concerns – who presently (and in the foreseeable future) get a comparatively free pass, dumping tens of 1000’s of tonnes of garbage they create as “mixed waste”annually for a paltry $100 a tonne. Check the pile of wood materials out there, in outa site outa mind land, and you’ll get some idea of the enormity – for those less informed let me tell you it’s a tragedy of immense proportions – and it is being ignored!

    Of little concern to the blind is noticing this occurring right under their noses while the optically astute citizenry of this fine town ( admittedly some with great hoopla and gusto – especially those getting their names on the plaques) will soon fork over $100,000 dollars annual to a MRF manager and $47,500 plus benefits for each of his/her helpers (officially called sorters) who will sift through 6.5% of the waste stream generated in this city. That’s considered progress is some minds, especially the ones getting the names on the plagues, and on the BBQ A list, all at the taxpayers expense.

    Of course this all, delivered to a $14,000,000 building (yet to be built) in shiny new $250,000 (USD’s) trucks driven by union guys making……………..

    All for $7.00 on your utility bill – dream on lazy dreamers!

    • Montreal13 says:

      Thank you Mr. P for including Mayor Spearman’s ,” Why I voted NO for bluebox recycling ”

      that HE wrote in Feb. 2015. This I believe was on his facebook page and he emailed it to

      a number of people at the time as well. As Mike states as well ,it is in the public record, for

      those interested in facts.
      And thank you, already extinct for your efforts to inform with facts, for those interested.
      Also there is a letter to the editor quoted above from Mr. Dodic . He was an alderman and a mayor in Lethbridge for a number of years. He retired quite some time ago. His letter also includes a number of facts.

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