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Waste less pay less: Thornhill needs fee-for-service waste collection

We’re doing more than just ‘our part’, says letter writer
To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail Include your first and last name, and your place of residence. Letters will be edited.

To the editor,

A venerable gentleman from the Thornhill area recently expressed his concerns in the Standard regarding the cost of garbage collection, with the suggestion of implementing a fee-for-use system. I tend to concur with his thoughts. And have some of my own to add.

When I initially arrived in this town I was somewhat amazed to find there was no recycling program in Terrace – Prince Rupert had one – and since we had had recycling since the late 70s in the eastern provinces I guess I kind of expected it here, with all the hype we easterners hear about beautiful B.C., how much the province cares about the environment, etc. and recycling is a necessary part of this. In any case I was extremely pleased when at last a program was established here.

I’ve lived in the area for 22 years now and there really didn’t seem to be public input on the development of the waste collection program or at least never heard of it. I was simply advised there was now a garbage collection program and taxes would be collected accordingly. When I called to inquire at the district office to check what it was all about, I was advised there had been a kind of referendum, and the majority of folks wanted the service so basically, everyone has to now pay for it (In future I must pay more attention to civic happenings in my community, or to the mail as I had heard absolutely nothing of this voting process). I was also advised there was no option to forgo this service.

Well, I’m a team player, so went along with it. I recently reflected on the whole issue of garbage collection here and see two problems with it: program delivery (which includes the fee-for-service option) and secondly, whether we are actually getting value for our money.

The first issue as I see it is fairly straightforward: Let’s all discuss it and see what we prefer. The benefits of a user-fee program are that some folks save a bit of money; those who have less waste to collect pay less and those generating more could have more collected and pay more. Simple. It balances out and above all else it’s fair. Some folks generate very little waste and shouldn’t have to subsidize others costs. An added benefit is that folks generating large amounts of stuff may curtail some of their waste, which is ultimately better for the environment.

Now, in consideration of what we actually get for our money (the cost of which has increased this year), I believe we deserve a little better. At present, we basically have cans and plastics collected, some paper goods and organic matter. That’s all. Other kinds of recyclables including glass we are expected to take to the ‘Do Your Part’ depot ourselves.

It seems we are doing more than just ‘our part.’ Judging by the amount of cans, bottles cardboard etc. at the depot, either folks have far more garbage than is collected, many people miss garbage day. Maybe we need another garbage day. But we shouldn’t, with the fees we’re charged, have to take what amounts to possibly 50 per cent of our waste to the depot ourselves. We are paying for a service after all. The way I see it, we are spending our own time and money dealing with recyclable waste ourselves when we also pay for collection. That environmentally we should recycle (no argument there whatsoever) isn’t the issue. I’m not the only one disgruntled, as numerous garbage piles in the bush, which include recyclables, attest to the fact some have found more economical ways of waste disposal which might arguably be curtailed by a better system providing a more inclusive service. And if the expectation remains that residents “do their part,” either collection charges are reduced accordingly, or collection is less picky in what it collects.

So how about some discussion: The program has been in effect for some time now, and it would be a constructive process to review with users to see what ‘s working and what isn’t. There is a date/time set for a meeting for discussion of a fee-for-service system, but how about something in the mail from the district asking for suggestions and input. It would reach a wider audience as some won’t be able to attend a meeting in person. I’m a great believer in democratic process and the Thornhill citizenry deserve input, due consideration, and if necessary; change.

Robert Baker

Thornhill, B.C.

READ MORE: Regional district needs pay-per-use waste collection


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