Rimbey residents, up in arms about the elimination of the residential yard compost pickup program, have presented a petition to council asking that the program be re-instated.
At its Monday meeting, council accepted the petition, signed by 570 town residents.
Along with the petition, several concerns regarding the program were read by Shirley Pobuda on behalf of Helen Coers, who was unable to attend the meeting.
“At a time when municipalities all across the country are trying to educate people, and improve facilities and services relating to the care of the environment, the Town of Rimbey seems to be going in the opposite direction by selling off our equipment and ending a service in waste management that has been a part of Rimbey town life for almost 20 years. What is/are the reasons for this?” Coers asked in her written submission.
However, public works director Rick Schmidt said the truck used to pick up waste has not been sold, but is not in use because it is in a state of disrepair.
“Yes, we were picking it up,” said Deputy Mayor Paul Payson, who chaired the meeting, “but in my opinion this is a dramatic improvement. We are making changes but we are not by any means done,” he added. “It’s not a cut and dried issue and it’s going to change more.”
Coun. Mathew Jaycox said council agreed to cut the program to keep the mill rate down.
“The money has to come from somewhere,” he said. “This will keep money in your pocket.”
However, a citizen in the gallery said money wasn’t the issue.
“This is not just about taxes, it’s about regression. The town is going backwards.”
Jaycox said council was advised by an environmentalist to not pick up grass clippings, but encourage mulching.
However, those in the gallery did not appear to accept this explanation as a valid reason to discontinue the service.
“Council’s new organic waste management policy requires residents to have a vehicle, an operator’s license and a certain amount of physical strength which many seniors no longer have,” Coers said in her submission.
Council has stated previously that residents who have health, mobility or disability challenges can phone the town to register to have their yard waste picked up.
However, at least one resident in the gallery did not like this idea.
“Don’t you know anything about senior citizens?” he questioned council, angrily.
“They don’t want to be a burden.”
Another resident in the gallery suggested the town should find out who owned trucks in Rimbey.
“Fifty per cent don’t have trucks, so how are they supposed to carry it (waste and clippings) down there?”
The new plan adversely affects all families, not just senior citizens, Coers submission stated.
“Many residents are working during the week, some far from Rimbey, and Saturdays are often filled with family and other responsibilities. How well does the new plan for organic waste disposal serve families, keeping in mind that many families have only one parent?
Coers said the management of organic waste may well result in untidy yards with fallen branches, bags of grass clippings, odors from rotting organic material, flies, rodents and scavenging birds, plus unsightly areas as residents find creative ways to get rid of their debris.
Her submission also stated the change had occurred without warning, consultation or discussion.
“Why the lack of transparency at the time the decision was made?”
After the meeting, Mayor Rick Pankiw said the petition will be dealt with, though no decisions have been made at this time.