A robust debate opened up after Lacombe City Counsellor Don Gullekson made a motion to remove green bins from the City of Lacombe.
While most of Council agreed in principle with removing the program that is costing taxpayers roughly $3 per month on their utility bill — the sticking point was whether that should be done now or in the scope of a larger solid waste audit that is currently scheduled for 2020.
While most Council understood the principle behind Gullekson’s motion, the debate led to the Counsellor withdrawing his motion.
Many on Council suggested that the audit should be pushed ahead on the strategic plan to 2019 but Gullekson felt that green waste should be kept separate from solid waste.
“Our solid waste review is so important and I don’t know if we are ready to look at that,” he said. “It is slated for later on in our strategic plan and I am fine with it being in 2020.”
Gullekson would instead prefer that green bins be removed to immediately create savings for taxpayers and also so that the City can promote best practices when it comes to recyclable material.
“What we are doing is not best practice,” he said. “What I want to encourage when we doing our recycling and composting is best practice. The one thing you should be doing is leaving your grass clippings on your lawn as much as possible and recycling within your own property through the compost program that we subsidize. We have compost bins we sell for $45, which is below cost.”
The system which is currently in place is not best practice, according to Gullekson and he hopes the community can start doing what is better for the environment — namely leaving clippings on the lawn, watering less, composting and using less fertilizer.
“If we are spending $200,000 on the best practice, I would have no problem with that because then we are doing the best thing for the environment and ourselves. Right now we aren’t,” he said.
Gullekson also feels the removal of the community green bins would also rid the community of an unsightly program that is labour intensive.
“Often they will be full of bagged garbage and bags of grass. It is all plastics that someone has to take care of. That is not composting — we have to get rid of that plastic,” he said.
Gullekson realized that the removal of the green bins would ultimately lead to many citizens putting their clippings into the regular garbage, however, he said it could be City’s job to educate what the best environmental practices are.
“My passion is to encourage our citizens to practice whatever is best for the environment — in this case to recycle within your own property as much as you possibly can,” he said. “I don’t think the City should have a green bin across the street asking for your grass clippings when that is not the best practice.
“I would love to see them gone. I think they are unsightly and I think it encourages the wrong thing to do.”
Council will discuss whether the solid waste audit will be moved from 2020 to 2019 at a later date, with the Budget considerations likely being presented during Spring Amendments.