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This article was published 30/1/2017 (1762 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The plans for a city-wide, curbside organics pick-up program appears to be mired in confusion and city hall double-speak.
There is no sign of a council-ordered strategy that was to include public consultation and options for composting and was to have been completed months ago.
Instead, the acting director of water and waste, Moira Geer, told a civic committee Monday that any work on organics and composting will be postponed until the completion of a review of the city’s waste-minimization efforts over the past five years. That won’t be completed until sometime in 2018.
Committee chairman Coun. Brian Mayes later contradicted Geer, telling reporters Geer’s report was poorly written and that the public consultation on organics will be reassigned to an ad hoc civic committee studying the impacts of climate change.
However, the chair of the climate change working group, Coun. Jenny Gerbasi, said she didn't know what Mayes is talking about.
"I can't explain what Brian Mayes was saying," Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said. "I'm a little confused by it too."
Back on April 27, 2016, council approved a motion directing the administration to carry out detailed work on composting and a review of the city’s waste collection and recycling program. The motion was a compromise over a failed attempt to launch a city-wide curbside compost pick-up program for late 2017.
At the April meeting, council ordered a detailed plan with specific deadlines to deal with composting and a review of the city’s garbage and recycling programs. None of those deadlines has been met, despite repeated extensions given to the department, and Geer told the environment committee none of that work has been carried out.
Council gave specific directions and deadlines to the administration that included:
- End of August — Develop a public consultation plan for opportunities for organic programs, and consult with the newly created climate change working group to explore funding partnerships and opportunities.
- End of October — Develop a city-wide program to reduce organic waste from commercial, industrial and institutional waste; develop a city-wide organic-diversion program that would be community based and work with existing not-for-profit groups and organizations; review and suggest improvement to the existing program of subsidized organic bins for Winnipeg residents.
- End of December — Conduct a comprehensive review of the city’s waste and recycling pick-up program.
Instead, Geer brought an administrative report to the committee on Monday that sought to go in a different direction — to conduct a review of the city’s waste-minimization efforts.
"We’ve done a lot of things in the first five years," Geer told the committee. "What we’re saying is let’s take a look at the effectiveness of those programs and look at what’s changed in the industry, look at what other cities are doing, where we’re at diversion-wise... The report will come back with a review of the five-year program, what is best (on how to proceed with organics) for the city of Winnipeg and its residents."
But Mayes said Geer’s report should have stated there is a proposal to alter council’s original April motion.
"There’s been discussions with the administration, the mayor’s office and other members of (executive policy committee)," Mayes said, adding it was concluded it would be inappropriate for the administration to conduct a public consultation on composting because it could conflict with the recommendations of the mayor’s climate change working group, which is examining the city’s long-term plan for sustainable initiatives and will be conducting its own public consultations.
Mayes (St. Vital) said there is the possibility the public would be confused by two consultation efforts on similar or possibly identical issues.
Gerbasi said the report of the climate change working group, which is also overdue, is being finalized and expects it to be presented to Bowman and EPC within a couple of weeks.
"I can't really comment on what (Mayes) said and try to explain what he was trying to say," Gerbasi said, adding there's been no change to the group mandate that was detailed publicly in April.
To add more confusion to the issue, the committee postponed any decision on Geer’s plan for 30 days. Mayes said the delay is necessary so he can have CAO Doug McNeil attend the next meeting and clear up any confusion over the responsibilities and obligations of consultants who might be hired to do the five-year review and to clarify how and when the public consultation for composting will be conducted.