City unveils dispensers for dog waste bags
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 08, 2012 06:00 am
The city is asking dog owners to help make its newest initiative on keeping the sidewalks clean successful by sacrificing a few used grocery bags.
St. Albert is in the process of setting up 40 dog-waste bag dispensers at strategic locations around the city. But instead of incurring the cost of keeping the dispensers filled with special bags, the city has settled on a different approach — use old grocery bags.
“A lot of people have a dog and they have to take a plastic grocery bag when they are out for a walk,” said John Younie, major projects and parks planning manager. “If you’re heading out, you might have four or five other bags. You could put that into the dispensers.”
As plastic shopping bags are not recyclable with the city’s bluebag program, Younie said the city sees it as an efficient, cost-effective way of giving dog owners what they need to clean up after their pets.
The dispensers started as a pilot project at the dog park at Lacombe Lake Park. Public works staff monitored the dispensers there and found that users did an excellent job of keeping the dispensers stocked.
“The dispensers were being refilled and used,” Younie said.
Younie even kept cost in mind when looking for the actual dispensers. Council had approved a business case in 2012 for the dispensers with $45,000 from the dog reserve fund — funded from the $10 dog license fee each owner pays annually — set aside. With commercial quotes as high as $400 a unit, he approached the St. Albert 50-plus Club (formerly the St. Albert Senior Citizens’ Club) and asked if the people in the woodworking shop could make something for less.
Former aerospace engineer Bill Barnes took up the challenge, crafting a design from plastic pipe with caps on either end. The end result was a product worth $82 a unit.
“It looked like a promising operation and we’re always pleased to earn a few dollars to help the club,” Barnes said. “It was interesting for us and if it saved the city a few dollars, that’s good.”
In total, according to Monique St. Louis, recreation services director, the dispensers amount to $4,000 in total costs, meaning the department will be returning approximately $41,000 to the reserve.
“We’ve been able to save significantly from that,” St. Louis said.
Younie said the dispensers have been strategically placed around the city based on how much dog waste public works crews have noticed when they empty the city’s 400 garbage cans. With 8,000 registered dogs in the city, Younie concedes they can’t get a dispenser everywhere an owner might walk a dog, but they can get close.
“We’re hopeful that this is something that will help keep St. Albert clean and green,” Younie said.
Residents can download a map of the dispensers’ locations at www.stalbert.ca