Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trash rations now in effect in London Ontario

Ten years later and the city is finally realizing the rotating trash schedule is unpopular with Londoners. Interestingly, the suggestion to go back to a regularly scheduled pickup day comes just months after the introduction of a 'new and improved' multipage collection day calendar, which never reached the doorsteps of many residents, but was nonetheless introduced with much fanfare by the city. Visitors looking to find out their collection date can find the calendar at the city website in PDF format here.

As I've written before, the rotating pickup schedule is confusing and although one of the justifications for the change from a regular pickup day was reduction in trash, people merely save up their trash until the next collection date, and count themselves among the fortunate if their zone receives service in a given week. This might explain the raccoon I saw darting across a busy city street around 4:30 in the afternoon today.

LFpress reports:
Londoners soon may be able to trash garbage calendars and return to weekly pickups, the city engineer hinted last night.

"I think it's a service the community wants," Peter Steblin told the city's environment and transportation committee.

It was July 1, 1996, that Londoners lost weekly garbage pickup to a system in which trash is collected every eight days -- except for as many as 13 days when holidays and weekends intervene.
Of course, this is an election year here in London Ontario and promises to improve garbage collection is sure to be popular with those that actually cast a vote in the municipal elections. However, proposed improvements in London always come with a price and a change to the garbage schedule is no exception.
Though Steblin won't make a recommendation until April, he appeared to tip his hand yesterday.

"It would cost a homeowner 25 cents (extra) a week," he said.

"Now is the time to give Londoners a choice."

His suggestion was received warmly by most of the committee, including Controller Bud Polhill.

"This is one issue where everyone is on side," he said.

With a trash calendar that's easy to misplace or misread in haste, Polhill has relied on a tactic no doubt used by many to pinpoint trash day.

"I look to the neighbours," he said.

Going to weekly pickup would cost about $1.3 million extra a year, said Jay Stanford, London's manager of environmental services.

[..] Staff also are considering billing Londoners for trash in the same way they are billed for the use of water and sewers.

Such a system would make it clear how much Londoners were paying for disposing of solid waste -- about $90 a household, Stanford said.

But that's a change committee chairperson Paul Van Meerbergen doesn't want.

"I find it troubling we're sliding toward an ancillary tax," he said.
Although the decision to change the pickup schedule was unpopular in the first place, after ten years it is now time for Londoners to have a choice? I suppose it helps when city councillors can't remember when garbage day is either.

And it's not just trash collection service that is plagued with problems. The contractor hired to pick up the recyclable material is typically a date late, meaning our blue boxes are for a day longer at the mercy of menacing people so inclined to empty the contents of the bluebox onto the lawn or the street.
Staff also was directed last night to find out why recycling trucks are chronically delayed and what can be done to change that.

The contractor doesn't have enough trucks to keep up, Stanford said.

[..] "This year the wheels fell off . . . It's completely unacceptable," he said.
And on the subject of trash, the four container limit is now in effect, which is well promoted in this year's garbage calendar.

Again, our trashy local press reports:
The trash tally in London begins next week when the city imposes a four-container limit per household, a modest measure compared to ambitious and costly options to be debated this summer.

The four-container limit requires Londoners to keep to a 108-kilogram cap that is multiples higher than the 20 kilograms used by the average household.

By summer, council will consider a more substantial option that could require Londoners to separate food scraps from garbage so they can be recycled, a program staff say would substantially reduce garbage, but at an annual cost of $3 million to $4 million.
A more reliable collection schedule would cost Londoners an estimated $1.3 million dollars a year more, but it would cost Londoners more than twice as much to implement a restriction resulting in the disgusting task of sorting your garbage into bacteria breeding recepticles spread throughout your home. So just be happy about that four container limit Londoners, because it could be a lot worse.
Jay Stanford, London's manager of environmental services, said workers who pick up London's garbage are leery of one thing -- they're afraid some may try to cram so much into each bag or bin they become extremely difficult to lift.

"If you have to struggle to get it to the curb, just think of our collectors who have to get to more than 1,000 homes a day," Stanford said.

During the first two months of the four-bag limit the city will focus on education, not enforcement. Excess containers will still be picked up but owners will be contacted.

The ease-in time will also be used by city workers to learn what problems might develop.

Starting in mid-March, the city will only pick up four containers per household. Residents who chronically leave more than four bags will face either $125 fines or bills to cover the costs of picking up the excess.

The goal is to get people to start to think more about recycling as the city tackles a goal set by Queen's Park -- increase waste diversion to 60 per cent from from [sic] 37 per cent.
In London, residents have nothing to look forward to, except London Knight hockey games and aging entertainers visiting the JLC. And there can be no other reality, so long as the city collects your money, no matter your level of satisfaction with the service. The Gertrud's of the world put out one bag, while the unfortunate needy fill half their lawn with trash on collection day, yet Gertrud pays more. Elderly people on a fixed income everywhere unite! Claim a portion of that money currently funding welfare collecting pollutors.
"I think people make too much garbage, that's for sure," said Gertrud Kuckelkorn, who easily keeps to one small container.

"Two containers is a good target," said Johanne Riggs, a mother of two who yesterday put out two bins and six bags after missing a pickup, cleaning her basement and disposing of holiday-related trash.

Not everyone is enthusiastic. A woman whose income is limited to disability payments said she can't afford extra charges. "I will not pay extra for bags," Mary MacRae said.
The raccoon population is expected to increase which is sure to satisfy local animal rights activists. Raccoons have a right to food too.


Ian Scott said...

LOL... London City has some funny rulers.

I found this funny:

""If you have to struggle to get it to the curb, just think of our collectors who have to get to more than 1,000 homes a day," Stanford said."

Ok. I'm thinking about them now. And their salaries. And their strike threats. And the fact they get paid more than food service workers.

Robert McClelland said...

I just moved to London a few weeks ago--which by the way means that since you're a right whinger I'll soon be hunting you down and kicking the crap out of you--and I was floored when I found out about this idiotic system of garbage pickup. Even after 3 weeks I still don't know when to put it out and so I've just been tossing it down a nearby ravine. Shh, don't mention that or my move to London and I'll go easy on you by smacking you around with my left hand only.