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Would you pay a buck a bag for extra garbage pickup?

A new "tag-a-bag" program will allow for up to three bags/receptacles over the existing three-bag limit
2018-03-15 - Garbage bags - AB

North Bay homeowners will soon be able to put more bags of household garbage out, but you'll pay a price.

Starting next Monday, Nov. 11, enhanced curbside garbage pickup will provide each household the opportunity to dispose of three additional bags each week.

A new "tag-a-bag" program will allow for up to three bags/receptacles over the existing three-bag limit to be placed at the curb. Tags will be sold at City Hall for $1 each. The additional bags/receptacles must be tagged in order to be picked up.

The long distance to the City’s Merrick Landfill Site, coupled with limited options for disposing of excess household waste, is inconvenient and contributes to illegal dumping. The Landfill is located 26 km from City Hall, off Hwy #11 North on Sand Dam Rd.

“While we continue to promote and encourage conservation and recycling, this program will provide people needing to get rid of more than three bags of garbage with another option,” said Coun. Chris Mayne, Chairman of Council’s Infrastructure and Operations Committee.

"if people want to add a bag because they can’t recycle it they can go to city hall to buy a tag or 20 tags to get them through the year,” added Mayne.

Mayne says three bags per household, per week is a lot of waste.

“Most people I don’t think come even near that, other than maybe at some select times of the year like fall leaf raking, things like that,” said Mayne.

The tag-a-bag program was approved by Council as a service level enhancement during 2019 operating budget deliberations.

An amended agreement authorized by Council Tuesday to the current Miller Waste Systems Recycling and Waste Collection Contract will allow the initiative to be rolled out.

Council has given staff approval to discuss the matter with Miller Waste Systems as part of its contract negotiations with the sanitation company.

“The current contract has run for about 10 years for the city’s sanitation services through Miller. The contract is coming to an end,” said Councillor Chris Mayne.

“There are always options to renew, but we are going to take advantage of the opportunity to add in a clause that allows us to pick up an additional three bags for $1 per bag in addition to the three free bag limit that everyone already has.”

More information about the program will be posted to in the coming days.

“If people want to add a single or another bag because they can’t recycle whatever the product is, they can go to city hall, buy a tag specifically or buy 20 tags to get them through the year, it is a dollar a bag. It is a nominal amount.”

Looking further down the road, Mayne would like to see council review the free three bag limit, making it a “true” buck a bag.

“To me, there is room to gradually reduce that as a disincentive and encourage recycling which is still one of the broadest programs we have ever had and is free.”

Councillor Mac Bain voted against the idea saying he feels it is a step backward.  

“If we are as a council permitting more waste to go to the landfill, even though people are paying for it, it is not necessarily a good thing,” Bain told council.

” I think this is a negative and bad approach for us to take.”

Bain said council will have to look at other options in the “very near” future.

“We are going to have to spend money to expand our landfill either at the same location or in a new location. We’re going to have to spend a considerable amount of money if we’re allowing more waste to get into the landfill.”

Councillor Mike Anthony sees the option to purchase three extra bags as a “plus.”

“It changes nothing for somebody who puts their garbage out now as part of what they pay for in their taxes,” said Anthony.

“I see this as a plus. You can now purchase the opportunity for a small amount to have those extra bags picked up. So, for me, you’re still getting exactly what you had, and it is a new level of service you can purchase.”     

Mayne says the life expectancy of the city’s landfill is currently in “good shape.”

“There is always an eye to the landfill, but the primary source of waste at the landfill is construction material. It is not residential waste. Certainly, that is a portion of it,” said Mayne.

“Right now, we still see 18 to 20 years of life in the landfill we own. There is available property nearby. We’re in pretty good shape for the life expectancy of the Merrick Landfill at this point.”

Council will now have to wait for the outcome from contract negotiations.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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