At a meeting of council this week, the Town of Blackfalds passed its new solid waste management bylaw by the narrow margin of one vote. Director of Infrastructure Preston Weran said the bylaw allows for the Town to adapt to the changing methods of garbage and recycling collection in Alberta.
Under the new bylaw, waste will be collected through automatic collection bins instead of being manually collected as it has been previously. Weran added similar systems have been implemented in other municipalities like Calgary, Medicine Hat, Didsbury and Olds and there are also plans to implement such a system in Red Deer.
The Town of Blackfalds’ 2014 budget process included the addition of new residential waste and recycling carts to be used with the new system. Designed for automated pickup, the new carts are much larger than those already being used.
However, residents had misgivings about the system. At a public hearing held during the same meeting, several voiced their frustrations.
Matt Wear was upset the bins for the program had already been purchased prior to the bylaw being passed and it seemed the Town was “Putting the cart before the horse.”
Wear said he did not think it fair the residents of Blackfalds were being stuck with an additional fee for the new bins that no one had really asked for.
Even after administration clarified that the additional fee was $1.85 per month and not $3 per month as previously believed, Wear said it was the principal, not the amount that was upsetting.
Shane Hanson also disagreed with the fee.
He said if residents were going to be forced into this new program, they should at least be able to buy the bins outright. Hanson went on to say the new system which charges a fee allows for abuse by those who are going to be irresponsible with their bins and punishes those who are responsible. “Irresponsible people are still going to cost the responsible people money.”
Erin Knight had concerns about back alley pickup in situations where the bins cannot always be placed on a level surface away from obstructions.
She said while she is not against the program, she was not for it either and there were more logistical concerns that needed to be worked out.
After discussion with administration and the residents in attendance, Councillor Will Taylor spoke saying that while he identified with the concerns of residents, this change was still necessary.
“It’s certainly not the will to steamroll anybody,” said Taylor. “This has actually been a process for years. If you follow other municipalities, this is kind of the way of the future.”
Council voted three in favour and two against for the bylaw.