By Trevor Busch
Haste makes waste? Not if you’re talking about further discussion of the Town of Taber’s municipal solid waste initiative.
At their Feb. 9 meeting, just two weeks after a split 4-3 vote to ignore their own policy against returning to discussion of a defeated agenda item, in a unanimous vote town council has now temporarily reversed that decision by postponing discussion of the town’s municipal solid waste initiative for a further month.
“Councillor Sparks is going to a (waste disposal) seminar later this month, and the suggestion was made to move this discussion to the first week in March,” said Mayor Henk De Vlieger.
In a follow up motion, Coun. Andrew Prokop requested administration investigate and bring forward additional options and alternatives to the same meeting. The motion was approved by a 5-2 vote. De Vlieger and Coun.(s) Randy Sparks, Prokop, Rick Popadynetz and Jack Brewin voted in favour, while Coun.(s) Laura Ross-Giroux and Joe Strojwas were opposed.
Opposition to Prokop’s original motion, which had asked for “all” alternatives to be brought to the table, was immediately considered to be unworkable by CAO Greg Birch.
“That might be an insurmountable task as framed, to bring forward every available option that’s out there.”
Prokop disagreed with that assessment.
“I don’t think that’s unreasonable. This was asked back in December, and at that time I believe it was confirmed by you, Mr. Birch, that there were definitely more alternatives out there.”
Birch was resistant to the suggestion that more alternatives needed to be investigated.
“I believe I might have said there were more alternatives out there. I’m not sure I agreed that we should investigate every one of them.”
Prokop continued to push for more alternatives to be investigated and brought to the table.
“How many can there be? I think it’s very prudent of us to look in to every available option. The bottom line is we haven’t received all the information available.”
In a critical assault of Prokop’s position, Ross-Giroux alluded to a need for town councillors themselves to investigate alternatives, while indicating a satisfaction with the municipal solid waste options that are already available.
“I’d like to state that there’s some onus on us as councillors to do our homework, and to search out other alternatives. It shouldn’t all be left up to the administration. I think we’ve been presented with several alternatives here to consider. In my book, we have enough.”
At their final regular meeting in December 2014, council had voted 4-3 to defeat a motion to continue with the municipal solid waste initiative as proposed, with a new cart system to comprise of curbside or laneway pickup of compost, recycle and garbage containers in the residential portions of Taber.
Coun.(s) Laura Ross-Giroux, Joe Strojwas and Mayor Henk De Vlieger had voted in favour of the motion, while a four-man majority consisting of Coun.(s) Randy Sparks, Andrew Prokop, Jack Brewin and Rick Popadynetz voted in opposition, defeating the motion.
According to town council’s own policy (Bylaw 3-2007), further debate surrounding the controversial three cart roll-out system which had been proposed for implementation should have ceased for at least six months when the motion to approve was defeated on Dec. 15, 2014.
Article VI.5 of Bylaw 3-2007 prohibits discussion of an issue that has already been voted on by council being added to a meeting agenda for a six month period following the vote. An exception can only be made when a notice of motion to revisit the matter is approved by a majority of council.
Council initiated discussion of various methods to improve the Town of Taber’s municipal solid waste system several years ago. A study undertaken in 2012 suggested the preferred option was to move away from the current bin system to a variation of the roll-out cart system used by a significant percentage of communities in North America. At the time, this initiative had originally stalled in the face of unresolved questions from town council and significant public opposition.
The municipal solid waste initiative proposed a system of collection which would eliminate the need to sort containers at home and deliver them to a central location, replacing it with a system where recyclables would be picked up in one cart at each resident’s property.