A Garbage Issue

If there is one issue cropping up in this municipal campaign that I have very little use for it is the call for the return of weekly garbage pick up. With all that is going on in the city, this matter is little more than self-absorbed, entitled whining.

And is a losing issue.

I have little doubt that some residents see this as the biggest horror facing Ottawa in 2014. I’m also inclined to believe that many candidates merely think many residents are complaining about it. I mean, if the candidate thinks it’s a big deal, then there must be thousands out there that agree, amirite?

Interestingly, a number of ardent supporters of weekly garbage pick up are slowly backing away from their stance. The call has begun to evolve into a call for weekly garbage pick up in the summer (at least for non-rural candidates). It’s a calculated retreat, a way to try to save face while they back away from their cockamaime position. They can even try to present it as a compromise, as if pushing for wasteful program for only a quarter of the year makes them masters of moderation.

The issue becomes even dumber with the policies that it often accompanies. Candidates like Mike Maguire want weekly garbage pick up, but they’re also disdainful of the green bin program, but they’re against dumps. Oh, and they want incineration.

Here’s how this all breaks down. The complaint is that garbage stinks. If left to sit for two weeks in the summer, all that wet stuff will rot and stink. And the maggots. Oh the maggots. I’m not sure we’ve heard more about maggots in a campaign before.

But, and this is key, the green bin is still picked up weekly. All that garbage that is being left to rot for two weeks is still picked up weekly. Yes, there may be some food packaging that doesn’t go in the green bin (yet), but the bulk of this rotting trash should be diverted on a weekly basis. People are just too lazy and too stubborn to switch from trash to the green bin. Their routine is more important than our future.

Rural candidates like Jonathan Mark or James Parsons want weekly garbage pick up (because Maggots!), but don’t want the green bin program (despite occasionally paying lip service to it). The argument is that rural residents tend to compost, so they derive no benefit from the green bin program.

So they need weekly garbage pick up for all the rotting garbage that they won’t put in the green bin because they actually compost it. It’s incoherent nonsense.

The garbage issue is championed most by suburban and rural candidates. But it is in these wards that new landfills will be created. So there is pressure to not have any more dumps, but to also make a ton of garbage that’ll be picked up weekly. The two policies are in direct contradiction.

But a lot candidates have a solution. They really do! We’ll just incinerate our trash. Be wasteful, make more garbage, collect it weekly, burn it, turn it into energy…profit! It’s such a tidy solution, it’d be ridiculous not to adopt it. It’s like some sort of perpetual motion machine. We’ll waste more so we can pollute more so we can waste more so we can pollute more…all at a cheaper price. Hell, we’ll probably make money.

Of course, it ain’t that simple. Aside from potential environmental issues from burning all of our crap, there’s the little fact that for the province to let Ottawa set up an incineration facility, we would have to divert at least 60% of our wet garbage (that rotting stuff in the green bins). Currently–with the green bin program in place–we divert about 51%. So we need increase our green bin use by almost 20% in order to incinerate.

So, if you want incineration, you have to have some sort of green bin program in place. There’s just no other way to reach the 60%.

Any candidate that is trying to sell you on weekly garbage pick up (even for just part of the year) coupled with incineration to solve all of our garbage woes is either ignorant or a liar. They don’t deserve your vote.

P.S. Any candidate promising you all this, while also promising you low taxes and sound fiscal management really doesn’t deserve your vote.

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One thought on “A Garbage Issue

  1. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven (or cycled, I suppose) in rural Ottawa on garbage day.

    It’s eye-opening. People in rural Ottawa seem to put out a lot of garbage. Virtually every property has some giant collection of garbage comprising multiple rolling garbage bins and assorted other stuff kicking around like old BBQs, furniture of all kinds, sporting equipment, children’s plastic play structures, suitcases (oddly common), etc. You see the odd property in the city that does this, but that’s probably a one-off clean out. It’s definitely not property after property.

    After having seen this a few times, I wondered if it was some kind of urban conceit on my part, so I ventured into suburbia on garbage day. Nope, suburban Ottawa, while somewhat more garbage-producing than urban Ottawa – and probably explainable due to children being present in many households – has nothing on rural Ottawa.

    The notion that rural Ottawans compost in significant numbers is also laughable. Oh, I’m sure there are some transplanted Green Party-voting urban freaks out there on some of the upland backroads who operate hobby farms with solar panels on their llama barn roofs who do so, but really, not most. Something about animals I imagine.

    There is a noticeable correlation though in rural Ottawa between the presence of a green bin on garbage day and the number of garbage bins that are out: when a green bin is present, there’s a far higher chance of there being only one garbage bin.

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