It was reported that Regina city council voted unanimously in favour of a biweekly winter garbage collection schedule on the night of September 25, 2017, a dramatic change from a semi-weekly schedule.
The new biweekly garbage pickup plan, which will affect about 64,000 households, is expected to save the city approximately $132,000. This cost-saving measure was prompted after the grants-in-lieu program was cut in the last provincial budget[i]. It will take effect starting in November and run until March 2018. Home businesses and daycare centres are advised to use private waste pick-up if they have additional trash. Affected childcare services like Ashley Longworth’s expressed concerns[ii] about their diapers disposal and urged the municipal government to look elsewhere to save money though they understood that the city needed to find ways to do so. Many individuals also echoed their dissatisfaction as the service is cut down while the property tax keeps increasing steadily.
According to data revealed by the City, brown bins are 60% full on average when they are picked up, and 14% of their contents are recyclable. If there are special circumstances to accommodate additional need of garbage space, Karen Gasmo, executive director of transportation and utilities, said that the council had to move to allow for special accommodations like that, and there was no agenda to discuss that on the same day of the voting[iii].
As put in the first part, the volume of waste cannot be predicted or controlled if you have got more people including kids, and adding brown bins or providing a no-fee entry into the landfill may increase the present cost and offset the service reduction plan. Furthermore, there is the question of accountability to the residents for the reduction of service while constantly increasing the property tax by at least 3% yearly (please note that the water rate has quadrupled since 1999 as reported by some residents). In addition, people may want to take some of the dumped furniture at the landfill though it is not allowed to enter the lot under present rules. People who bring garbage to the landfill have to pay a cost of about 5-20 dollars depending on the weight and nature of the garbage.
III. Other Potential Solutions
Though it is hard to predict and control the volume of garbage for some businesses and families, there are ways to reduce the garbage in a long term:
l A more detailed breakdown of family garbage items like recyclables, flammable garbage and inflammable garbage (like in Japan)
l A public education on waste categorization and management
l Adopting the burning method (like in Singapore and Sweden) and the biological compost or anaerobic digestion method (like in Britain and Germany) to turn garbage into power or fertilizer while reducing the volume of garbage
l Encouraging the donation and exchange of second-hand furniture in the neighborhood and opening up an area for free pickup before the landfill entrance with a specified time to clear away the area once a week using a conveyance belt on the ground
Though presently brown bins are 60% full on average and residents need to make a better use of the bins, there are other ways to treat the garbage. As immigrants are increasing and businesses are growing, curtailing on the use of garbage bins may be effective temporarily but may aggravate the problem in the future. Borrowing from Japan and Sweden may help Regina cope with the garbage problem in the new age.
[i] Jessie Anton: Biweekly winter garbage pickup approved by Regina city council, CJME, Sept. 26, 2017.
[ii] Jessie Anton: Regina daycare upset about biweekly garbage pickup schedule, 980 CJME, Sept. 23, 2017.
[iii] Ashley Martin: City council approves biweekly garbage, Regina Leader-Post, Sept., 26, 2017.