By Trevor Busch
Numbered now are the days of bin-style solid waste collection in Taber as the community braces for a large-scale rollout of mobile waste carts scheduled for April in anticipation of a May 1 start date.
Residences that currently have front-curb collection — roughly 20 per cent of the community — will be receiving their garbage carts this week with collection scheduled to begin March 1-3. The town’s solid waste initiative will be a three-cart system for garbage, recycling, and composting.
“A total of 520 homes are going to be affected by the front pick up,” said public works director Gary Scherer. “There’s also two blocks that have one lane, in the same area as most of the front collection, right behind the hospital. It just makes sense because they’re in the same area, so there’s only two other blocks that are going to be included in that.”
Affected residents are being asked to place bagged waste inside the cart, and to have their carts curbside on collection day by 8 a.m. Ensure wheels or handles are facing inward toward the residence with wheels touching the edge of the street or curb. One metre of clearance is required on all sides of the carts and overhead, including parked cars, fences, and trees.
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 council and a degree of public opposition.
At their June 8, 2015, meeting, town council voted 4-2 to approve the purchase of a solid waste collection truck from Haul-All Equipment Systems for $299,999. The collection truck will have a dual-arm collection system which allows the vehicle to gather all waste or recycling material with one pass in the lanes, reducing lane maintenance, promoting fuel economy, and overall safety.
The town’s new dual-arm collection vehicle is scheduled to arrive this week, while collection days will not currently change for those areas affected by the initial rollout, according to Scherer.
“Their collection days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, so it will be whatever day that is that week. We’re not changing any days yet. But this is just a temporary garbage bin. When the big rollout comes in April, this will actually be their organics bin. Their other garbage, and the blue bin — the recycling bin — will come at that time.”
The municipal solid waste initiative is 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. Other municipalities in Alberta have moved to municipal solid waste disposal systems similar to that being implemented by town administration for Taber, although only a relative handful have moved to a full three-cart recycling and disposal system.
The carts will be delivered with some attached explanatory information, and will initially be for garbage only for the immediate future.
“We’re going to have mailers going out, and brochures, and ads in the newspaper,” said Scherer. “There will also be a big information booklet, with an attached calendar, with your days of pickup and everything else, that will be attached to your carts.”
Residents experiencing trepidation about a full-scale three-cart rollout will still have roughly 10 weeks of breathing room to help them familiarize themselves with the solid waste initiative being implemented by the town.
“That whole component will be rolled out mid-April, and will start May 1,” said Scherer. “It’s a big initiative, and we’re looking forward to it, because our lanes are in bad shape — that’s for sure — because of the big bins.”
Bio-Can (the town’s preferred compost site operator) applied to the M.D. of Taber for a development permit for the compost site in late 2014, but was ultimately refused by the M.D. of Taber’s Subdivision and Development Authority on April 20, 2015, due to concerns over odours and debris. The alternative site selected by administration is on 80th Avenue, roughly mid-way between 50th Street and Highway 36, and is considered to be removed from residential areas with good access.
According to their projections, the Town of Taber is expecting to save over $200,000 per year if residents and businesses divert compostable materials to a local treatment facility, athough there has been no indication that town residents might see a financial benefit from the program passed back to them through reduced waste collection fees or other cost savings.
Providing an update on the proposed development at town council’s Oct. 13, 2015 regular meeting, Don Francis of Bio-Can confirmed the company’s plans to have a compost facility operational in Taber by April 2016.
Future considerations regarding the solid waste initiative will include discussion of implementation of a municipal solid waste collection system for the industrial area, consideration of an optimal way to collect waste from higher-density dwellings, such as apartments, and determining the need for a second garbage truck.
Mayor Henk DeVlieger was unable to be reached for comment on the initial solid waste cart rollout. For more information on the rollout of the town’s new solid waste intiative in coming weeks, residents are asked to contact the Public Works Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-223-5500 (ext. 5461).
Specific rollout dates for carts in other areas of the community will be announced by the town as they are scheduled.