Council passes ‘bag tag’ bylaw Public meeting slated tonight

Town council passed the new waste management bylaw during a special meeting Wednesday, which means, among other things, that “bag tags” will come into effect here starting Monday (May 31).
And in order to make sure residents are up to speed on amendments made to the bylaw, the town is hosting a public information session Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre.
“What we’re doing is making sure the public understands all the changes,” Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said Thursday morning, adding staff at the Public Works office are very busy trying to distribute flyers and get out “bag tags” before Monday.
Brown noted one key amendment people should know about as soon as possible is that residents living in multi-residential properties with between three and six units will be given 30 free “bag tags” in the next two days.
This is because council decided to allow those residents to have one free bag of garbage (or one Type ‘A’ container full of smaller bags) for pickup each week.
Unlike those living in single or double-unit dwellings, who will be allowed one Type ‘A’ container or receptacle (bag of garbage) free of charge per week (without a “bag tag”), with each one thereafter requiring a “bag tag,” residents living in multi-residential properties with between three and six units will have to attach these free “bag tags” instead.
Those living in multi-residential properties with seven or more units must use a “bag tag” for each receptacle (garbage bag) or Type ‘A’ container they put out.
Brown said he’s trying to distribute these 30 free tags to building owners in the next two days.
Other amendments to the waste management bylaw, the original version of which was outlined in a flyer distributed in April, include:
•commercial, institutional, and industrial properties that previously have received weekly garbage collection services from the town’s contractor will continue to receive weekly services (the rules and regulations for collection will be the same as for residential collection, except that “bag tags” shall be required for all receptacles and Type ‘A’ containers);
•receptacles (commonly known as garbage bags) may be placed out for collection without having to be placed in a garbage can (but they must be tagged individually);
•Type ‘A’ containers no longer have to have tight-fitting lids or handles, but size and volume restrictions still have to be adhered to (volume between 17 and 35.94 imperial gallons; total weight of garbage and container combined can’t exceed 40 pounds).
And no waste will be allowed to overflow the top of the container (i.e., waste must be level with the top edge of the container);
•animal fecal matter (such as dog dung) will be picked up if it is in a tightly-sealed plastic bag or other container (while it often was picked up before this amendment, under a municipal bylaw the town technically wasn’t supposed to do so); and
•home-based businesses will be considered a commercial unit, therefore there will be no free weekly collection of Type ‘A’ containers or receptacles.
A flyer outlining the changes will be available soon at Canada Safeway, Pharmasave, Howarth’s Home Centre, Cam Belluz Masonry and Concrete Products, East End Confectionery, Gagné Pharmacy, Pauline’s Hair Care, Memorial Sports Centre, Civic Centre, Witherspoon’s One Stop, the public library, and the Sorting Gap Marina (during the summer months only).
These locations also will be selling “bag tags” for $1 each.
The amended bylaw was passed Wednesday in a vote of 6-1, with only Coun. Struchan Gilson voting against it.
It currently is estimated that allowing for the free bags of garbage will mean about $85,000 less in revenue in 2004, which could mean a residential tax increase of about 2.5 percent (this is based on figures from treasurer Peggy Dupuis, who said at Wednesday’s meeting that a one percent tax increase for residential class equals about $39,000).
But council agreed Wednesday to put addressing this shortfall off until the 2005 budget process.
“I’m just not happy with putting off the shortfall until 2005. It should be taxed on this year’s assessment because it’s going to take place in 2004,” said Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft.
But Coun. Todd Hamilton noted that a budget is like a “snapshot in time,” and “not a fluid document we can go back and change” whenever something unforeseen pops up.
While CAO Mark McCaig said he didn’t totally disagree with Coun. Wiedenhoeft, it would be wise to wait until the 2005 budget process starts this August or September to see how “bag tags” pan out (e.g., if “bag tag” sales are greater or lesser than expected).
Coun. Tannis Drysdale remarked there is no way Operations and Facilities could find an extra $85,000 in this year’s budget, and that capital projects already are at a bare minimum in 2004.
She noted “taxes will no doubt go up next year because of this [the shortfall].”
But Coun. Neil Kabel said he felt the town “is not nearly as poor as some people think we are,” and it’s possible the shortfall could come out of the town’s reserves in the 2005 budget.
Mayor Dan Onichuk, who again stressed the town’s commitment to expanding recycling services here, noted the Operations and Facilities executive committee will discuss at its next meeting the possibility of forming a recycling committee, which would include local citizens, to help investigate the matter.
“I think this bylaw will help promote recycling,” remarked Coun. Wiedenhoeft near the end of Wednesday’s meeting.
“I do support anything to do with recycling. I just feel deep down this isn’t the way to do it,” countered Coun. Gilson.