This is an exciting time for the residents of Blackfalds!
With winter retreating and spring taking hold residents are getting outside to enjoy our many recreational parks and trails; especially our new Abbey Centre with all it has to offer.
While spending time at the Centre I see there is a refreshed sense of community for our Town.
Along with these exciting times comes an increased responsibility for the waste we all generate. Whether we are a small family, or a large business, everyone must do their part to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose.
Gone are the days when we could bury our garbage and forget about it. There has been too many of us that have turned a blind eye to this very serious, daily, global pollution.
A number of years ago, as a Council, we decided to break away from the Lacombe County Commission and to date have grown our programs, owned and managed our own solid waste transfer station and currently transport all our solid waste to Red Deer at a cost.
We are continually looking at ways to improve our service levels while ensuring that the utility customers’ money is being well spent, this holds true for the path we are taking with our new solid waste management bylaw.
In the summer of 2012 we engaged a consultant to assist us in developing our waste reduction strategy which included outlining our current processes and assisting in developing a solid waste management plan that will take us into the future.
The plan was completed and a number of recommendations were outlined, including a bag limit, a stronger emphasis on composting and zero-scaping.
It was also recommended that a community-based social marketing plan be developed which included public surveys, potential environmental stewardship programs and correct labelling of waste containers.
Some of the first recommendations that we put in place included adding another day for pickup and increasing our transfer station hours from part time to full time.
We also decided to hire a full time operator for the Transfer Station and will be installing a touch pad automatic gate system to help with busy days while ensuring our residents have access to this facility.
We spent a considerable amount of time and effort in developing a yard waste program complete with free yard waste stickers available for pick up at the Town office. We are anticipating an even stronger participation in the program this year from last.
After review of the plan, public surveys and many discussions in Council, we decided to move forward with an automatic cart system for waste and recycling. This program will address many of the existing issues that exist with manual pickup and introduce a bag limit for waste.
The recycling cart provides graphics on the cart itself which indicates what to put in the recycling stream and will limit the collection materials blowing around. These carts will also allow us to develop future programs such as alternating waste, recycling and composting pickup weeks, and introduction of a kitchen waste program.
With technology built into the carts such as RFID tags and bar codes we will be able to better track the dumping and location of these carts in the near future.
The first 600 automatic waste and recycling carts will be rolled out to 300 residents starting in the first week in May! These residents will be our test group to use the new carts and provide feedback to administration.
We will then take this feedback and make any adjustments needed to the current program prior to rolling out the remainder of the carts to all residents. By the end of summer, all residents in Blackfalds will be using these carts.
I would recommend that everyone take the time to educate themselves with the instructions and maps enclosed with the carts and keep an eye on the web site and Facebook for further information.
I encourage you to utilise the spring and fall clean up, yard waste, recycling and private composting purchase programs we currently have in place.
The Town really appreciates all the public’s feedback on this program and waste management as a whole. On behalf of all the councillors, we want to thank the public who came out for the public hearing or have called into the office to discuss this program and all our services offered in this great town we call home. Let’s all do our part to put waste, recycling and yard waste in its place.
Melodie Stol is the Mayor of Blackfalds.