St. Albert is on the right track with the new waste collection program that’s set to start June 1.
That was the message several councillors took away from an information session in Strathcona County on Thursday. The session allowed St. Albert councillors to hear what the county learned when it rolled out its organic waste program in 2008.
St. Albert’s program will see every home receive two plastic carts, one for organic waste and another for traditional garbage. Blue bag pickup will continue as usual.
The county experienced most of the same concerns that St. Albert officials are hearing and were flooded with thousands of inquiries and complaints after implementing its program, councillors heard.
Coun. Malcolm Parker has been skeptical of St. Albert’s new program but said he’s starting to buy into it after hearing the same story from several municipalities that have gone through the experience.
“They all tell you the same thing, that there will be a little grumbling at the beginning but after it’s in place the residents are happy,” he said.
Another thing councillors heard was that county officials regretted not having done a trial run before implementing their program. That’s one benefit of adopting a program that many have already done, said Coun. Cathy Heron.
“We came away thinking, ‘Well you guys did the trial run for us,’” Heron said. “They’ve blazed the trail for us and so I guess most of it is how do we educate the public.”
St. Albert recently awarded a five-year contract to dispose of its organic waste at the Roseridge facility east of Morinville. It’s also custom-ordered five automated garbage trucks that will handle all the city’s residential trash.
The city now diverts 42 per cent of its waste from landfill. The organics program aims to boost that by 15 to 25 per cent.
Coun. Cam MacKay, council’s most outspoken skeptic of the new program, didn’t attend the Strathcona County session. He brought forward a motion on Monday calling for the city to seek price quotes from private contractors who are willing to buy the city’s new garbage trucks and do its waste collection. Debate on that idea was delayed two weeks and will return to council March 21.
Mayor Nolan Crouse has already said he won’t be easily swayed to change the city’s direction. Thursday’s session in Sherwood Park did nothing but reinforce his conviction that the city is doing the right thing.
“All the things that they learned, we’ve implemented various pieces of it so I’m feeling really good about where we are,” Crouse said.
The most common complaints are that there’s no room to store the toters or place them on the street, particularly in the winter, and that the compost will freeze to the inside of the containers.
Strathcona didn’t get complaints about space restrictions but has managed to work around all the others, Crouse said. Freezing compost can be averted by placing a layer of newspaper between dumpings or using compostable bags within the containers.
“They said it’s amazing that on pickup day, everybody rolls their bins to the end of the driveway, even during all this heavy snow,” he said. “They said it was a non-issue.”