By Tim Kalinowski on May 12, 2021.
The Economic Standing Policy Committee of city council narrowly approved about $3.5 million a year over the next four years as a capital investment in a curbside organics “green bin” program in the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program cycle.
The motion, sponsored by Coun. Jeffrey Carlson, passed by a vote of 5-4 after Coun. Jeffrey Coffman made a last minute attempt to postpone approval of the funding until Jan. 2022 to allow more time for community feedback on the project.
“I would like to see a little further community engagement on this,” he said. “In doing this in the context of the CIP that just doesn’t sit comfortably with me.
“I think postponing it until January of 2022 gives opportunity, and gives the new council the opportunity as well to consider. It doesn’t take us out of the construction season. It may delay things a month or two, but it still gives opportunity to have a more fulsome conversation in the community.”
The green bin program will also require the City borrow $10.6 million to construct a facility to deal with organics at the Waste and Recycling Centre, and will eventually (by 2023) require a $7.00 monthly increase in utility charges to residents to pay for. This would be outside of the $3.5 million yearly CIP investment to help with operating costs for the program such as buying the green bins and kitchen catchers to be supplied to local households.
Earlier in the day City staff again explained this would reduce waste going into the community’s black bins by 57 per cent, would help keep toxic leachate out of the landfill, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the landfill.
Coun. Rob Miyashiro reminded councillors they had already approved a waste diversion strategy in 2016 which they all knew would eventually include organics.
“We need to get on with it,” he said. “I am not sure about the public consultation part of it. What we found out with the blue bin curb(side) is people opposed it because they just didn’t like it for whatever reason. A year or two afterwards there is hardly anyone that opposes it when you look at the data we received on the public opinion (survey) about our services.”
Mayor Chris Spearman said it is better the current council own its waste diversion strategy, and put it on the public record before the election this fall rather than avoid accountability by postponing until January after the election is over.
“In simple, practical terms we know organics are 57 per cent of what’s going into the dark bins now, and this is the next step,” stated Spearman. “We have been given good scientific reasons to address the greenhouse gases and the possible pollution issue from the leachates.
“I think it is a great issue for the next municipal election,” he confirmed. “If 70 per cent of the people actually support curbside residential organics collection that is great, and people can express their views during the election. By setting out a clear vision to go forward with this, it will create an election issue for all candidates. For those who oppose it, and those in favour of it– then the electorate will ultimately make their decision.”
Coffman was supported by Councillors Ryan Parker, Blaine Hyggen and Joe Mauro in his postponement motion.
After the postponement motion was defeated, the four councillors also voted against approval of the CIP investment in the project.
Acknowledging it is a hot topic in the community, Carlson stated a curbside organics collection program is the right thing to do to divert waste from the landfill and allow all residents to do something positive for their environment.
“I think it does go to meeting our targets that council set, and the targets our community wants, the province wants, our country wants, and the world needs,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Recommendations that stem from the CIP deliberations will be forwarded for City Council’s consideration at the May 18 City Council meeting.
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