As the City of Moose Jaw held their first of three information meetings in advance of a change over to front street curbside collection, a number of residents turned out to voice their displeasure with the process and the decision.
The city says the move will make the system more efficient, will be easier on equipment and in the end, save taxpayer dollars. Burleigh Hill is a resident of The Avenues and argues there are no problems with the current system, so why change?
"It is an efficient system. Our homes were never designed like the new homes up in Sunningdale or VLA for front pick up. For the most part, the don't have back alleys so it has to be front (pick up) but we've got back alleys for garbage so leave it as is."
The argument over The Avenues changing to front street collection isn't just about efficiency though. That started back with the work to address narrow streets in Moose Jaw. In studying those areas, it was discovered that the city doesn't own some of the back alleys and that created a concern over liability when operating city vehicles to collect garbage.
Hill isn't the first to question the city on how efficient the change would be, other residents have asked that question during council meetings and even some councillors have doubted the claim. City Manager Josh Mickleborough explained during a council meeting in June that "Curbside collection is a more efficient service with less time for pick up. While it's true, that if you have to do both sides of the street, you will see a slight increase in fuel, the overall time per unit does decrease so your overall efficiency is higher for curbside."
According to a report presented that same night, the switch to bi-weekly curbside will reduce over all fuel costs by $13,000, a 30% reduction for the city’s sanitation collection. The engineering department has also argued that the heavy garbage trucks are doing major damage to the back lanes, especially since they travel at such a low speed, extending the amount of pressure applied to the road bed. Making it worse, is when the trucks do collections in the spring when the snow is melting, or during the summer after a rainfall.
That report went into detail about other cities and how they've addressed back lane pick up with a graph showing Weyburn, Estevan, and North Battleford are now 100% curbside pick up, Yorkton isn't far behind at 99% with Saskatoon and Prince Albert floating around 85% curbside service. Administration used the statistics to suggest that this was the new normal for garbage collection and needs to be utilized in Moose Jaw.
Efficiency and size of the roads aside, Kathy Boon is most concerned about litter as a result of moving garbage and recycling bins to the street.
"With overflowing garbage bins being put out and ending up with garbage all down the street with animals getting into it overnight or whatever." said Boon. "And the fact that on my street there are a lot of older people and it's hard for them to get it to the street. It was much easier just leaving it set up in the alley as to having to bring it in and out."
City Hall officials have also tried to address these concerns saying that if a bin is stored properly in a yard, then it would be less likely to be struck by a vehicle or tipped over by animals or the wind since it wouldn't be out in the open. Municipal Operations Manager Darrin Stephanson also believes that if something were to happen to a bin while in someone's yard, that home owner would be more likely to take responsibility for the mess and clean it up, rather than just leaving it, resulting in the current situation in the alleys around Moose Jaw where trash can be spotted frequently.
The new collection plan begin on August 1st in Area 2. The next two information sessions will be on August 16 and September 14th.