Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Still time to rethink new garbage system

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Winnipeg and Emterra still have time to re-think the new garbage system before the snow flies.

In Wolseley, the pickups for waste, recycling and yard waste have been on schedule only a few times since the inauguration of wheelie bin system on Aug. 7.

I have called 311 at least four times about a missed pickup of garbage or recycling, and have rolled one of my un-emptied wheelie bins back into the yard on at least two other occasions. On one of the missed garbage pickups, an operator fished through our garbage and recovered an item but then the crew left the bins on the entire lane.

The city's 311 operators advise that it takes two days for information about a missed pickup to get to the city's waste management people and at least another day for the city to arrange for a second pickup.

This means leaving bins out for at least three more days. Our single family home is across the lane from a multi-family home with eight bins, which create a "wall of bins" when the bins are set into the lane.

This "wall of bins" makes it difficult to back our car out of our driveway on the scheduled pickup day, a problem that continues for three more days if a pickup is missed. It will be a complete mess after it snows and the lane is narrowed by the rock-hard frozen ridges and ruts left by the plows.

While wheelie bins are used in many urban settings, a quick review indicates that Winnipeg may be the only large city attempting to use individual wheelie bins in inner-city lanes under what soon will be extreme winter weather conditions.

Winnipeg's practice of leaving homeowners to fend for themselves in clearing windrows left by snow plows on both side of lanes can be expected to prevent or delay pickups in the narrow lanes in the older parts of the city. I cannot imagine how people without steel shovels or ice-cutting tools, or the elderly or the physically challenged, are going to hack out spaces for their bins or cope with dragging the bins through the snow and over windrows.

If Emterra cannot get it together in this lovely warm fall weather that has blessed Winnipeggers, the onset of winter can be expected to result in further delays and missed pickups and bins left indefinitely in Winnipeg's snowy and barely passable lanes.

On the plus side, our family appreciates not having to carry car loads of dripping bags of leaves to the Leaf It With Us depots.

Emterra and the city, however, should have anticipated and addressed the significant increase in the demand for paper leaf bags.

Like other readers, I drove from store to store to store in a nearly fruitless search for paper leaf bags. It would appear that neither Emterra nor the city advised stores to stock up on paper leaf bags in preparation for the fall leaf season.

In this regard, I want to thank the folks at Rona on Sergeant Avenue for going the extra mile to quickly restock the paper leaf bags, for providing accurate information on re-stock dates and for actually answering the phone to confirm that a shipment of leaf bags had arrived.

Because it was the City of Winnipeg that banned the use of plastic leaf bags to improve the industrial-scale composting program (which I support), the city should post a webpage to advise Winnipeggers which outlets actually have a stock of paper leaf bags (and which outlets are out of stock) in order to prevent Winnipeggers from wasting time and gas in fruitless expeditions to purchase paper leaf bags.

 

Michael Anderson was part of a group of concerned citizens in Delta, British Columbia who founded the Delta Recycling Project and established the first blue box collection program in Western Canada in 1988.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2012 A6

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