Rethinking Lacombe’s waste management practices

Lacombe has over 4,000 homes and hundreds of businesses that generate thousands of tonnes of waste annually.

STEVE CHRISTIE

Lacombe has over 4,000 homes and hundreds of businesses that generate thousands of tonnes of waste annually. In order to ensure that municipal operations remain efficient and sustainable as the community grows, we are conducting a review of how we are dealing with our waste.

Currently, the municipality hauls its waste to the Prentiss Landfill. Prentiss acts as a transfer station, where the garbage is re-loaded onto trucks and hauled to Camrose to be disposed of at their landfill. The contract that Lacombe has with Camrose does not allow for compostable or recyclable materials to be dealt with separately; it is all treated and dumped as waste. This is not a sustainable way to deal with our garbage. The contract that we have with Camrose is for 25 years. It will expire in 2019, and will leave Lacombe at a great disadvantage. Residents and the City have to work together to reform our waste management practices NOW, or we will soon be faced with substantial increases to our utility rates in order to deal with our garbage.

An audit was recently conducted of Lacombe’s waste, where a random sample load of garbage was examined to determine the ratios of organic waste, recyclable material and true waste. The audit found that well over two-thirds of all household waste thrown out in Lacombe can be recycled or composted.

Paper and plastic alone account for nearly 40% of all the trash that ends up in garbage bins. By integrating better recycling and compost practices, the City plans to reduce the amount of waste that is trucked to Camrose. This will provide for a significant savings on fuel, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drastically reduce the amount of garbage being hauled to landfill.

Council is committed to ensuring that Lacombe’s solid waste system is efficient, sustainable, and works for the whole community. For this to happen we need your help!

Over the next four months, residents will be asked to provide input that will be used to determine the future of our waste management system. Please plan to participate in at least one of the following community input opportunity events.

Once a week from May to July, City staff will be present at the Wolf Creek Recycle Site to engage with the residents, and hand out comment cards that residents can fill out to provide feedback. The card will also provide a link to the online solid waste survey, and information about some of the proposed initiatives. It also gives staff a chance to educate recyclers as to what materials are acceptable at the site, and even give someone a helping hand if they need.

In addition to having a weekly presence at the Wolf Creek Recycle Depot, staff will host a public BBQ event in July. Residents will be invited to trade completed comment cards or surveys for a complimentary hot dog or hamburger.

In June we will hold the first of two open houses for public input on the Solid Waste Roadmap. At this event, residents will be asked to provide general input into the existing system of waste collection and disposal. This information will be used to further refine and inform the Solid Waste Roadmap. The second open house will be held in late August, where staff will present their findings and recommendations for resident input prior to council’s consideration at their Sept. 9 meeting.

City staff will also attend a number of weekly farmers’ markets in Lacombe, not only to seek general comments, but also to solicit resident input on specific issues. We will continue to utilize the City web site, social media channel, monthly utility bill inserts to provide information and seek public input into the initiatives proposed in the Solid Waste Roadmap.

This is your chance to get involved and have your say on an issue that affects us all! For more information please email us at Garbage@Lacombe.ca, or call 403-782-6666 and ask for the ‘Garbage Hot-Line’.

Steve Christie is the mayor of Lacombe.