Condo owners left on city scrap heap

Condo owners left on city scrap heap

Posted in the Georgetown Forum

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North Bay, Canada

#1 Jun 17, 2013
Condo owners left on city scrap heap
Up for Debate column by Jessica Lovell: When I came to Guelph for university in 1997, the garbage system had its own learning curve.
My residence room had two wastebaskets – one with a green “wet” sticker and one with a blue “dry” sticker. It was new to me and it took some getting used to. But I soon learned to love it.
I raved about Guelph’s garbage system to friends in other cities that just weren’t as progressive as Guelph.
When the city went to a three-bag system, I adapted, satisfied by the knowledge that even though I was living in an apartment with no backyard, my wet waste was still being composted.
But Guelph’s garbage evolution has continued and I’m no longer singing its praises.
As the city continues to grow, it has moved to a garbage system that doesn’t accommodate its growth.
As Places to Grow legislation dictates the city accommodate more infill and multi-residential development, more and more condos of various shapes and sizes are going up in Guelph. But the city has opted for a waste-collection system that makes it very difficult, if not impossible for condos to participate.
This fall, my condo complex was to get the new waste carts as part of the city’s gradual conversion to an automated collection system. Instead, we’re going private, which means my food scraps will be heading to landfill.
Why doesn’t our private contractor take our wet waste to the compost plant? As it was explained to my condo board, the city’s compost plant doesn’t accept waste from private collectors.
As a condo board member, I argued in favour of using the carts. But I was outvoted by the rest of my board, and I can’t say I blame them.
We crunched the numbers, and the city’s system only stood to save us a few hundred dollars, if there were any savings at all, but it guaranteed numerous headaches.
The complex has more than 65 units, a significant number of which are rental properties. Though the buildings are not traditional apartment buildings, they are not townhouses either. We don’t have balconies or yards. Currently, our garbage is stored in a shed built specifically to accommodate Guelph’s three streams of waste.
The city offered to help find solutions that would make the cart system work for our property. But the solutions left much to be desired.
We were offered weekly instead of bi-weekly pickup and flexibility on the number of bins.
One of each colour of bin for every four units was the suggested option. It would be up to us to figure out who would be charged with bringing the roughly 50 bins to the curb and back every week, who would keep them clean and how we would keep them vermin-free.
We didn’t waste too much time on those questions, because first we would have to figure out where to store said bins, which would surely not fit in our garage.
We were not sure whether there would be enough curb space, either within or around the property, to space them out for collection on garbage day.
The city does not have larger bins for multi-residential properties, because the city’s trucks are automated and only accommodate the three one-size-fits-some options for waste carts. We were offered the largest size that a single-detached home owner might use.
Still, though I wanted to be able to adopt the system, I conceded that many single-detached home owners would opt out of this system if they could – and they don’t have nearly the problems with non-compliant waste that my condo has. By going private, our board acted in the interests of owners, I think.
While some condo owners would be satisfied with a break in their property taxes in exchange for opting out of this city service, this solution doesn’t satisfy me.
I want to go back to the progressive system that let me compost even though I can’t afford a house with a yard.
And I am sad that even though condo owners are a growing population, they were all but ignored in a new garbage system that should have been implemented with consideration
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North Bay, Canada

#2 Jun 17, 2013

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