Unanimous vote sees city revert to garbage collection system as it was in June 2017
Citizens of Moose Jaw spoke, Moose Jaw city council listened. And the decision was made to push the contentious curbside garbage collection system to the wayside. After 16 months of debate, discussion and a telephone poll that eventually proved the tipping point for many citizens, council decided that: -- residential waste collection would revert to the combined curbside and back-alley pick-up system as existed in June 2017; -- that the requirement for replacement and recovery of bins by homeowner on collection day be extended to all residents, regardless of location; -- that a weekly waste pick-up schedule will apply for June, July, August and September, effective June 2018. All three motions passed unanimously, while a motion to allow a neighbourhood to move to curbside collection if a petition showed a majority interest was defeated. Coun, Don Mitchell – who had been vehemently opposed to curbside pick-up in the executive council meeting where the original motion was passed – asked for a re-vote on the curbside motion after the executive council report had been filed. That kicked off a nearly hour-long process that included a cavalcade of speakers voicing their opinion on the subject, all in opposition to curbside collection. “This is the last place I thought I’d be after the poll said 85 per cent wanted (collection) in the back alley,” said Moose Jaw resident Rick Walker, with his sentiments echoed by every speaker. “People give their lives to live in a democratic country and we seem to have an undemocratic four on city council... I’ve talked to many people in area one where I live and honest to Jesus, I haven’t found one that wanted front curbside pick-up. I’ve talked to a lot of people on the east side of town and I haven’t found one that wanted curbside pick-up. “This four, they know who they are, took that 85 per cent poll and the $10,000 of taxpayers’ dollars and fired it in the garbage can. It meant nothing to you to do it that night. Treating the taxpayer with respect, the people who put you in here to begin with, should be number one on your minds.” Immediately after the final speaker had said their piece, Mitchell’s motion for a revote was brought to council, and the original motion in favour of curbside pick-up was defeated unanimously. “We didn’t have a lot of discussion on the survey, I was kind of taken by surprise that the recommendation came forward in spite of the survey that we had invested in as a way of including residents in the process,” Mitchell said. “But I didn’t hear anyone on council challenge the results of the survey and as we heard from the gallery, that didn’t matter. To me, that matters a lot, especially when talking about the service of waste collection, which I mentioned earlier of all the services we provide is the one we rely on property owners the most to work with us.” Mitchell continued, saying that the resistance to curbside collection had largely been pushed to the side and dismissed from the start of the process, even in spite of poll numbers that showed the majority opposed to the change. Prior to the vote, Mayor Fraser Tolmie thanked the speakers who commented on the issue and the direction council was leaning. “Democracy isn’t easy and sometimes it’s messy,” Tolmie said. “But it’s a process we exchange in and this community has really stood up and made its voice heard and I believe this motion will pass.” For Coun. Brian Swanson, the entire issue was a matter of “closing the barn door after the horse has gone”. “I think back to when we sat in that room a year-and-ahalf ago and this came up, I remember losing six-to-one after saying ‘don’t get into this, don’t try and do this’,” he said. “And unfortunately it’s become the issue of the city for 16 months now, when as people have said tonight, there are so many important things we should be dealing with... To get chasing down rabbit holes about garbage when we shouldn’t even have gone there, and tonight we see it’s a full swing to 7-0 to not implement this any further. And I think of all the energy and time and money that got wasted doing that... that should be the story of this.” As a result of the motions, there will be no change to current pick-up procedures or schedules until weekly pick-up returns in June. Homeowners will, by law, have to move their bins from the back alley if there is no garbage in them – such as when out-of-town -- to prevent collectors from wasting time picking up empty bins on a regular basis.
Moose Jaw resident Rick Walker speaks to city council during their regular meeting on Apr. 9.