Monday, March 14, 2011

Out With The Dumpsters And In With The Politics

It looks like City Hall is well on its way to making changes in garbage collection. As you well know, we have those hideous dumpsters lining our lanes in the North End. Well, it looks like they are on the way out, to be replaced by the individual automated cart system.
So, how did the City make its decision to select the automated carts? That’s a question I would love to have answered. I know there was a public consultation at the Convention Center, a website that collects input from the public, and open houses being held throughout Winnipeg. I also know there is a Stakeholders Advisory Committee to provide input to the Garbage Master Plan. I know about the Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) because I am on that committee. And I know I was not asked which garbage collection system I preferred.
I do know SAC developed criteria to judge the options, awaiting the chance. Criteria were developed including costs, green house gas emissions, equality and fairness, and public health. I also know that a consulting firm (Stantec) was hired to develop options for the Garbage Master Plan. And I know the members of SAC continually asked the same questions at each of the meetings. “Will the consulting firm take our recommendations into account?” and “What is our role in the decision making?” So, at the last meeting of SAC, when we were advised that City Hall is really only considering automated carts, and the information being rolled out to the Speak Up Winnipeg open houses is limited to automated carts, I cannot say that I was surprised. But again, the members of SAC asked “Has the decision been made then?”, “Is there only one choice to choose from?”, “Will SAC be making any decisions or be given a chance to make any suggestions?” I guess I would have felt better if we were asked our opinions, even if they were not considered behind closed doors. But we were not even asked. The slap in the face was almost audible.
I guess this is politics. Form a well rounded committee from all sectors, have them meet and discuss the important issues surrounding Garbage, Recycling and Composting. Keep telling them they have a voice. Then in the end thank them for coming out and make the decisions that politicians make without any input from the committee.
I expressed my concerns on the automated carts when I was at the SAC meetings. The back lanes in the North End are narrow. During the winter there is a single lane plowed with high snow banks on either side, leaving no space for the carts. These carts will have to be drag through the snow and positioned in the lane somewhere between the tire ruts and the snow bank, hoping not to get hit by a vehicle. I am concerned about the large transient population, the renters, taking care of their automated carts, using them, and taking them back into their yards. I am concerned about the landlords making sure the automated carts are available for use, and replacing them when they are not, at a cost of $40.00 a pop.
Then there is the issue of bulk garbage that will surely still appear in our back lanes. Although the dumping of bulk garbage is illegal, the City has yet to fine a single person for illegal dumping. There is talk that the free pick up of bulk items in areas of high fire risk will be discontinued and no talk of enforcing the By-Laws to fine those doing the dumping. So, who pays for the pick up of so many bulky items that are dumped illegally into our back lanes? Or will they all just remain until they are lit on fire? Then the fire department will have to come out at tax payer expense, leaving the burned out carcasses of couches and mattresses behind. Again, who will take care of the remains?
And finally, what is City Hall planning for the transition into the new automated carts? I am sure they will run a couple of carefully placed ads on TV and in the newspaper. But besides that, are they planning anything?

1 comment:

  1. Rae, I don't usually see humour in your posts, but this time you had me laughing. "...what is City Hall planning for the transition..."

    Planning? Are you KIDDING me? They rolled out these carts in the West End with NO consultation, and told us to put them ALL on the side of the lane with the hydro wires. Imagine, 25' lots, 3' required between bins, each bin 2' wide... 8' total space required along with a parking pad, a garage, and a place to pile snow. It didn't take them long to figure out THAT wouldn't work, but you'd have though some tall forehead would have figured that out in his office. Clearly these guys have never even SEEN a back lane.

    They ain't got no "plan" Rae. They make it up as they go.