SCRD directors voted in favour of curbside organics pick-up on May 16 for Areas B, D, E and F. We asked staff for something similar to Gibsons’ very successful program (why reinvent the wheel?), and it should roll out early next year. See News Story
Gibsons has reduced the volume of garbage going to the landfill by 45%, and that’s crucial since we have less than 7 years until our landfill closes, and no plan in place for what to do next. Diverting more material will buy us precious time to plan and to finance the very expensive closure process. It will also significantly reduce our GHG emissions.
Reluctantly, I voted against an opt-out provision for the service. Here’s why.
I spoke to staff at the Town of Gibsons and discovered that their opt-out program, while successful, has required the equivalent of a half time person just to manage. Designing and processing the applications, explaining the program to residents, and making manual adjustments to the billing system were all more work than had been anticipated.
Last year about 100 people applied to opt out of the Town’s organics pickup and 57 were approved (approx. 2.5% of households). The same approval rate in the SCRD rural areas would add up to 150 households, and I suspect that’s a low estimate. We have a lot of large rural properties, so we could easily receive hundreds of applications.
That would require a lot of staff time to administer; possibly several full time staff equivalents. And that cost would be applied to the 95% of people receiving the service who would have to pay extra for others to opt out. Frankly, that’s unfair as well as being inefficient.
I know that some folks will be very unhappy about this, and I’m sorry not to be able to offer opt-out to the people who want it, who are also the community’s recycling stars. However taxpayers fund a lot of universal programs where everyone pays the same amount regardless of usage. I put out my garbage no more than once a month, but I pay the same as neighbours who leave a can on the curb every week. I don’t ice skate or swim in swimming pools, but I pay for two ice rinks and three pools. I don’t use transit very often but I pay for bus service. And I’ve never had to use the hospital, but I’m happy to pay a tax that covers those who need the service more than I do.
In all these cases it’s public policy to support programs that benefit the community by spreading the cost out over all the households who have access to the service.
Organics pick-up services have been very popular in other communities. The 6 month pilot program in Davis Bay has been running for 5 years because residents love it and don’t want it stopped. I’m particularly pleased that Gibsons has contracted with a local company, Salish Soils, to process organics and produce compost that can be used here on the coast.
Our organics pick-up will include:
- fruits and vegetables
- rice, pasta and bread
- tea bags and coffee grounds
- fish and shellfish
- meet, poultry and bones
- dairy and soy products
- food soiled paper and cardboard