Maintaining the current garbage container limit will greatly increase our community's ability to achieve the waste diversion and minimization goals stated and endorsed by Council in Vision 2020.
By Larry Pomerantz
Published January 16, 2012
If all goes as planned, I will deliver a presentation to City Council this morning on the proposal to increase the garbage bag limit.
Council can save taxpayers upwards of $2 million dollars on the proposed 2013 to 2020 garbage and recycling collection contract by maintaining the current household rate of one garbage container per week. The proposed contract recommends up to six garbage containers per household, to be collected every second week.
Last week, approximately 15 people confirmed their participation in our second Let's Call City Hall campaign to show support for a one garbage bag limit. A few people retweeted the message and a few commented on Facebook. Thank you to everyone who made an effort to engage City Hall.
We experienced the exponential participation growth that we were seeking but this will be the week we find out if people really believe that civic engagement can produce positive results.
Even if you called last week, it would be helpful if you call again and for everyone who did not call, please do so on Monday morning or whenever you can. It would be really nice if you would also tweet individual Council members before or during my presentation.
Unfortunately, I don't know exactly when I am up to make my presentation, but I will be there by 9:30 am. Even if you receive this message later than I had hoped, please still call and tweet.
Some people have asked me what they should say when they call City Hall. The following script may be helpful and you are welcome to add or delete any information to meet your needs. Leaving your name, phone number, home address and email address will provide Councillors a better opportunity to respond and to determine if you live in their Wards.
Hello, my name is [NAME HERE]. My address is [ADDRESS] and my phone number is [PHONE NUMBER]. This message is for the Mayor and Councillors. I wish to register my support for the City's current limit of one garbage container per household per week. Please do not accept a waste and recycling contract that permits increases to the current limit.
Let's Call City Hall and let them know we support a one garbage container limit.
Call 905-546-CITY (2489) during regular business hours. (Monday to Friday, 8 am to 4 pm).
Call 905-546-2730 outside regular business hours. (Councillors' reception).
You can also tweet "I support a one container limit #HamOnt #LetsCallCityHall" to individual Councillors:
Send an email to HamiltonCivicLeague@gmail.com to confirm you made a call to City Hall. We will update the LetsCallCityHall website with the number of calls confirmed. The Hamilton Civic League welcomes proposals for future Let's Call City Hall campaigns.
Join / re-join the Hamilton Civic League to guarantee receipt of future updates and please forward this email to extend our invitation of free 2012 membership to your family and friends.
It is garbage day in my neighbourhood today. I placed two blue boxes, a green cart and a mostly empty garbage can curbside. It required two trips to the curb; the first carrying two stacked blue boxes and the second dragging both the wheeled green cart and the wheeled garbage can.
When I arrive home later today, I will stack the two empty blue boxes and take them back to my house with the garbage container and green cart, in a single trip. Two trips to the curb, one trip back to the house.
When I think about it, I could just make one trip to and back from the curb using only one container. Everything inside the blue boxes and the green cart could have fit into the one garbage container along with my garbage.
I am sure there are Hamiltonians who don't bother to recycle because the current one garbage container limit meets all their weekly waste disposal needs.
I believe it is safe to say that there are many more households that could not get by with a single garbage container. Maybe they would need two or three to handle all of their weekly waste, and recycling.
If a single garbage container provides enough weekly capacity for me to avoid recycling today, a two or three weekly garbage container limit would make it easy for almost all Hamilton households to opt-out of recycling in the future.
City Staff state, "most households already meet the current one garbage container limit." Today, garbage day, most households in my neighbourhood will abide by the bylaw and only put one garbage container curbside. There is no need to increase the limit to two or three containers when the garbage trucks already pickup all of Hamilton's garbage under a one container limit.
We could offer to pay the garbage contractors more to accept additional garbage, but we only generate one garbage container of waste per household each week, so why would we offer to pay more, when we don't generate more garbage?
The proposed waste and recycling contract calls for an increase to allow up to six (6) containers per household to be collected every second week at an additional cost to taxpayers of $250,000 annually or $1.75 million over the duration of the contract.
Based on current levels of garbage generated, most households will require no more than two (2) containers and City Staff state, "many households may continue to set out a minimum amount of garbage on the proposed bi-weekly schedule." I represent one of the households that will continue to set out only one garbage container bi-weekly.
With respect to the issue of illegal dumping, the following has been taken directly from the City's website.
Municipalities that implement container limits do not experience a sustained increase in illegal dumping. For example, Kingston experienced a small increase in illegal dumping at first, but it was nothing like what they were told would happen.
As quoted in The Hamilton Spectator on November 22, 2007, Kingston's solid waste manager John Giles notes, "It is a perceived problem, but in reality it is not."
Illegal dumping cited by City Staff refers to "bulk items and leaf and yard waste". The new contract provides weekly leaf and yard waste collection so this particular dumping issue should be resolved.
Increased garbage container limits will not affect illegal bulk item dumping. However, eliminating transfer station fees for bulk items only may reduce dumping incidents. Clearly, illegal dumping cannot justify a proposed increase to the number of garbage containers permitted per household.
With respect to the issue of "special consideration and grace weeks", where heightened volumes of waste may be generated at individual properties or City-wide, the City currently has a process in place to accommodate such circumstances.
Staff report the related administrative cost to taxpayers to be minimal at approximately ¼ of a full-time employee's wages.
Waste Watchers (WW) is an Earth Day Hamilton (EDH) program in partnership with the City, Waste Reduction Task Force and the Clean City Liaison Committee. WW provides waste diversion education, assistance and training at festivals, schools and other public spaces.
EDH is prepared to expand its WW program to households in need of assistance to achieve the current one container limit.
In conclusion, acceptance of the proposed contract while maintaining the current limit of one garbage container per household per week (or two garbage containers bi-weekly), will result in the following benefits:
Save taxpayers $1.75 million on the proposed contract
Reduce potential for households opting-out of waste diversion/recycling initiatives
Heighten diversion rates
Increase City revenues through the sale of additional recyclable material
Assist more households to achieve the current container limit
Reduce incidences of illegal dumping
It should also be noted that the proposed contract ends in the year 2020. Maintaining the current garbage container limit will greatly increase our community's ability to achieve the waste diversion and minimization goals stated and endorsed by Council in the Vision2020 document.