May 28, 2020

9° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us


Throwing compost into the trash

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/2/2017 (1198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There is something rotten in the city of Winnipeg. This may not be what Hamlet was referencing in his comments on the state of Denmark, but there is an odour wafting through the city that gets worse by the week.

We are more than halfway through Mayor Brian Bowman’s term, a mayoralty intended to bring to life the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s BOLD vision for the city. That vision has been reduced to demolishing the old Public Safety Building, creating grey space around City Hall and trying to turn Portage and Main into a kill zone for pedestrians, letting them wander through eight lanes of traffic.

This week, Bowman engaged in the politics of dismissal recently demonstrated by others: I’ll rule how I want.

For all the discussion at city council about organic wastes, greenhouse gases and the decision by elected councillors to go ahead with some kind of a compost plan, Bowman has decided to dismiss them all with an imperious wave of his mayoral hand. Not on my watch, he has decreed.

It seems to me the language is supposed to be "mayor and council," but there was no evidence of it in his personal decision to throw any waste management strategy the city might have developed into the trash.

Yes, you can compost in your backyard — if you have a backyard and can get to the bin in the middle of the winter. But not everyone does or can. You can use your own compost on your own garden, if you have one and grow things in it. But not everyone does or can.

Every other major Canadian city seems to have figured out the necessity of diverting organics from landfill sites that are rapidly filling up — like our Brady Road site — and how to do it. Just not Winnipeg. Every other major Canadian city has learned that rotting organics in landfill sites create dangerous greenhouse gases, which is not a good thing for the commitments we have made to reduce them.

Winnipeg needs to make solid waste collection part of the direct pay system that covers water and sewer and provide a built-in incentive for people to divert organics themselves, as well as their recycling. I think most people here can figure out how to sort their trash and why it’s important.

As well, Premier Brian Pallister’s government requires a strategic climate plan, as part of the new vision proposed for the province.

Pallister needs to do what Bowman and city council apparently can’t — implement a provincial ban on landfilling organic waste as part of our commitment to greenhouse gas reduction and use the carbon tax money as subsidies or incentives for municipal strategies for organic waste diversion. There is federal green infrastructure money that could help in other areas, too, if Manitoba steps up to be a climate leader and declares its intention to work toward a carbon-negative economy.

Yes, there is something rotten in the city of Winnipeg. That would be our landfill sites — something easily fixed, if we composted instead.

Peter Denton teaches the history of technology at the University of Winnipeg and chairs the policy committee of the Green Action Centre.


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us