Town Adjusts Garbage Pilot to Address Resident Concerns

Town Adjusts Garbage Pilot to Address Resident Concerns

The Town of Okotoks will be piloting a four-month garbage collection program in two neighbourhoods where the black garbage carts will be collected every second week, rather than weekly.

The pilot will begin the week of June 4, 2018 for residential households in the neighbourhoods  of Mountainview and Woodhaven.

“These neighbourhoods were selected to participate in the pilot as they represent a large enough test group to provide the waste services team with accurate data to analyze the effectiveness of the program,” said Paul Lyons, waste services manager.

More than 100 people have participated in an initial survey, as well as having spoken with staff. The challenges they have identified have generated valuable ideas to guide the Town in making adjustments to the pilot prior to its implementation in June.

Summer Conservation Educators will be visiting participating households beginning the week of May 7 to discuss these adjustments.

Participants will have an opportunity to switch to a larger black cart, at no charge, for the duration of the project, or households can receive additional free excess garbage bags when they occasionally exceed capacity.

“We recognize that everyone’s needs vary, and these two neighbourhoods encapsulate a representative sample of Okotoks’ demographics,” said Lyons. “We want to ensure everyone can participate successfully because this will provide valuable information for the future design of the waste utility.”

The Town is exploring options to evolve the waste utility towards a user pay model, similar to the Town’s water utility, where lower garbage volume results in lower fees.  The goal of the pilot is to find the right balance between fixed and variable costs, and to provide choice and flexibility to meet individual situations.

“We want to provide excellent service balanced with value for money and residents’ feedback is helping us find that right balance,” said Chief Administrator Officer Elaine Vincent.

Because waste diversion is an important element of this project, the Town will also be researching how to further assist residents in accurately sorting waste from recyclable and compostable materials. Based on a 2017 analysis, approximately 45 percent of materials going into the black carts was actually organic waste and 30 percent was recyclable.

Under the Okotoks 2020 Waste Management Plan, the Town is working to achieve an 80% community waste diversion target by 2020 to align with the province’s goals to divert waste from landfills and to extend the life of Okotoks’ regional landfill.

The pilot will end September 28 and a report will be presented to Council in the fall.