Lacombians care a lot about how their garbage is managed.
This was clear at the April 8 regular meeting of Lacombe City council, where over 70 residents showed up to oppose council’s decision to replace back alley dumpsters with roll-out bins.
In response, council voted to revisit the Lacombe Solid Waste Roadmap and seek greater input from citizens of the community.
Then, at the regular council meeting on April 22, the City of Lacombe administration laid out its plan to gather that input.
Matthew Goudy, director of infrastructure services for the City of Lacombe, said in the meeting that the City would seek to engage the public through promotional materials, greater public presence and a pilot project. He added the timeline for this strategy would be four months.
Goudy said that, in accordance with the plan, Infrastructure Services would seek to speak to residents in person about the Solid Waste Roadmap through its presence at a number of farmer’s markets over the summer, two scheduled open houses, an increased presence at the Wolf Creek Recycle Depot and a barbeque at that site as well.
“We’re hoping people will trade some comments and surveys for some hot dogs and hamburgers,” said Goudy.
Signage placed on dumpsters, existing roll-out bins and the City’s garbage trucks could also help to raise public awareness about the issues surrounding the Solid Waste Roadmap, he said.
Monthly utility bill inserts, as well as the City of Lacombe web site and the currently running Citizen Satisfaction Survey would also be used to provide information and receive feedback from residents, he added.
Goudy also said that, after the four-month period, these strategies should be reviewed by administration to see if they can be used for future projects as well.
Councillor Outi Kite agreed and said that the strategy should be used as a pilot for public engagement in general.
“When I was reading this I thought, wow! This must be the most ways of engaging the public that I have ever seen,” said Kite.
She added that she was very appreciative of the work that had been done and felt it was well worth the cost, which was just over $17,000.
However, there was one part of the strategy that was hotly debated among the councillors.
A pilot project was also proposed as part of the public engagement strategy.
The pilot would involve a test area where dumpsters would be removed and replaced with roll-out bins for the four-month period of May to August, said Goudy.
Residents in the area would be able to provide feedback through direct interaction with administration as well as a dedication hotline and email address before, during and after the pilot.
A report presented to council by Goudy read that the pilot project would deal with recycling and compost as well and would be rolled out in sections each month.
Councillor Wayne Rempel was in favour of the pilot. He said that all of the people he spoke to regarding the pilot project said they were “Absolutely, 100 per cent in favour” of a pilot project, including those who were opposed to roll-out bins overall. He added that several of those he talked to had never used roll-out bins and were only opposed to them because they had been told roll-out bins would be worse than dumpsters.
“Once I explained it to them, they had a different viewpoint,” said Rempel. He added that he thought the pilot was a great way for those who had never used roll-out bins to see how they worked.
Councillor Grant Creasey did not share Rempel’s views.
“This particular test that we are proposing, I just don’t see as being fruitful,” said Creasey. “I just don’t think we’re hitting the nail on the head yet.”
Creasy added that he would like to see the pilot project part of the public engagement strategy eliminated for the time being and revisited another time after some more input had been collected from the community.
Mayor Steve Christie pointed out that roll-out bins already exist in some neighbourhoods of Lacombe.
He said that a third of the City already has roll-out bins and that has shown roll-out bins work making the proposed pilot project a redundancy.
“I think we’re all missing the point that we are living in a pilot project,” said Christie.
While Creasy moved that the public engagement strategy be amended and the pilot project removed from the strategy, the motion was voted down.
In the end, council voted to go ahead with the public engagement strategy in its entirety.
More information about the City of Lacombe Solid Waste Roadmap and the public engagement strategy can be found on the City’s web site at www.lacombe.ca.