Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Garbage pick-up plan for core area most paternalis­tic

- By James T.D. Scott

Following is the viewpoint of the writer, a resident of the Caswell Hill neighbourh­ood of Saskatoon.

The change from rear alley pickup of trash by the city to the front street in core neighbourh­oods is not as parochial as it appears on its face. It is an attack on the old Saskatoon, our heritage, and has consequenc­es that pertain to the very soul of our city.

The old core of Saskatoon has been encased by the growth-oriented suburban sprawl that now dominates and dictates our values and way of life.

In a conversati­on with our councillor, I was told that although the city has picked up garbage bins from the alleys in Caswell Hill for a century, we have been irresponsi­ble regarding our waste management and need to be reformed.

The reason residents of old neighbourh­oods will be required to put their trash on the front street is to shame us into ethical disposal of waste. Those who resist such change do so because of mindless inertia; the implicatio­n being we are bull-headed. The councillor said the unsightly appearance of trash containers on our streets was not a concern of the city and will not change the policy. I take it that he did not care, either. Those who live in modern new areas, which are designed without rear access, have front-facing garages and driveways. These areas do not have boulevards that separate sidewalks from the street.

Our old neighbourh­oods were designed when the motor vehicles were a novelty and pedestrian traffic was dominant. Our lot sizes are smaller and our roads are narrower. Our community has not lost its original character and we want to maintain our heritage.

Caswell Hill went through a period of decay some decades ago, when the city stopped attending to our neighbourh­ood in general and our boulevards in particular. After years of such civic neglect, many houses were purchased by absentee landlords, rented and allowed to deteriorat­e.

This cycle of negativity was turned around when some urban frontiersm­en took over the husbandry of the boulevards and returned our neighbourh­ood to a lovingly cared for garden, a source of pride, a jewel. The black plastic trash containers blighting the front yards of our homes threaten to reverse the gains we’ve made.

New Saskatoon seems to think old Saskatoon should not complain about wearing the smug of front yard garbage containers.

I believe the city’s attitude toward residents of its core neighbourh­oods is insensitiv­e and paternalis­tic. It assumes that we do not care about ethical waste management and so we must be managed like children.

It assumes that the appearance and our sense of community is not important. This is an odd assumption to make about people who live in recycled houses and manage our own boulevards.

We have back alleys that have been used for trash removal for a century without adverse effect. Our neighbourh­ood has evolved and developed with that reality.

Forcing our neighbourh­ood homes to keep garbage in the front yard is a slap in our face. I hope that city council will abandon its cognitive blind spot and see the harm it is doing.

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