About 50 frustrated Moose Jaw residents turned out to the Moose Jaw Public Library Tuesday night for a public forum on recent waste collection changes.
The forum was hosted by Citizens Advocating Sensible Taxation (CAST), with CAST spokesperson Terry Gabel moderating the event and four Moose Jaw city councillors (Crystal Froese, Scott McMann, Chris Warren and Don Mitchell) being peppered with questions and (some) angry comments for over 90 minutes.
The concerns sprang out of the city's decision to switch all eligible residents from back alley pickup to having their garbage collected on the front curb and, eventually, move to bi-weekly collection.
The program is already underway, with areas one and two starting front collection this month.
Area one resident Dwight Thompson, who lives on Montgomery Street, was one of several citizens to voice concerns.
"I have no place on my front or side to put my garbage can, so it's going to sit on the street," he explained after the meeting, saying not only does the new system present logistical issues, but also makes his property unattractive. "Why would I spoil the aesthetics of my home, that I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars making look nice?" he wondered.
Many in the crowd voiced concern over senior citizens and their potential inability to move a full garbage bin several feet - Thompson concurred.
"My one neighbour is an elderly widow," said Thompson. "How is she going to take that garbage can down her driveway, which is sloped?" he wondered. "I can just see on icy days in winter, people slipping and falling."
In addition to front garbage pickup and the move to a bi-weekly system, the Waste Collection Bylaw, which was passed in June, includes fee hikes at the landfill. City Administration has said that once the new bylaw is fully implemented, the combined initiatives could mean about $850,000 to the city's bottom line.
"Everything happened quickly and we tried to implement it while saving some money," said Councillor Froese after Tuesday's forum, explaining that making changes to waste collection was first discussed among councillors during 2017 budget deliberations.
"We heard from one couple tonight, they have lived in their house for 40 years and the way their yard is oriented is designed for backyard pickup," she stated. "Now they're going to have to alter that whole system. That's a legitimate taxpayer complaint. Hindsight is always 20/20 (but) we should have slowed this process down and had consultation prior to going ahead with it."
At the July 31 city council meeting, Councillor Don Mitchell introduced a Notice of Motion that would see more changes to waste collection, including allowing all areas of the city designed before 1960 be able to keep back alley waste collection. Council will debate the motion at their next meeting August 14.
Froese says she will spend the next few days considering the issue, and will take Tuesday's forum into account. She says her ultimate goal is to keep the issue "simple."
"What I see here is we're complicating the process. People just want to know what they're supposed to do with their garbage."