By Cole Parkinson
Municipal District of Taber council is looking at ways to improve waste pickup in the hamlet of Grassy Lake.
With current operations running on Monday for the south side of Grassy Lake and Wednesday for the north, a municipal employee with a pickup and dump trailer manually picks up bags and places them in the trailer.
With the repetition of the job, many employees have placed Workers Compensation claims over the years and they have expressed a desire to change the way the operation works.
One potential option discussed is using a bulk waste pickup using large dumpsters and a contracted service provider.
“We’ve been throwing out a number of different options over the past couple of months as we have visited this topic a number of times. Bins replaced in the community in a couple of spots, one spot has a whole recycling and waste area. Our options there, we have dollar figures which is rough guessing because we really don’t know as we’ve never been a part of this before what it’s going to cost. We were thinking about a pilot project for a number of days but that being based on council having an open house or something and seeing what their thoughts are,” said Jason Bullock, director of agricultural services at the M.D.’s policy meeting on Feb. 22. “If we roll with rough guessing on 12 dumpsters, it’s going to increase the costs a little bit. Until we have some real numbers of what the community needs are, we can’t tell them what it’s going to change in their monthly bill to.”
The project pilot was suggested by administration to last for 90 days with an open house before and after to gauge feedback from the community.
M.D. staff gave a rough estimate of what the numbers would look like if they went the 12 dumpster route starting with $58 per dumpster.
For each week they totalled it to cost $3,016 a year for each and $36,192 for all 12.
They also accounted for adding 16 bins if that was more in line with what was needed at a cost of $48,256.
Another option presented to council was purchasing bins for everyone in Grassy Lake as well as a garbage truck.
With that option though, it presents the residents a substantially higher cost as they would need over 200 bins to satisfy.
“We can pave the streets in gold if they’re wiling to pay for it. If we go door to door it’s going to cost more and that’s the reality. The bin system will be a similar cost to what we’re doing now,” added Reeve Brian Brewin.
Council was in favour of easing the stress the current system was pacing on their employees and were hopeful one of the presented solutions would indeed be agreeable for everyone involved.
They also stressed the need to involve the Grassy Lake community in deciding on the best option.
“I think we’re breaking some backs with the way that we’re doing it right now so we’ve got to try something different. I think that involving the community is the best option,” said Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris.
With the community dumpsters being the preferred option for council due to lower costs and alleviating the pressure put on M.D. workers, the option also present a few worries for the staff.
One of the biggest fears was the possibility of seeing large piles of garbage around the dumpsters if they were full or the items were too big to fit in the bins.
“My concern is where we put up these dumpsters you’ll end up with a couch beside them and four mattresses, all of that stuff you see piled around,” said Bullock.
Reeve Brewin countered that he would rather see those items near the bins than in ditches around the M.D. Next up for the process is hosting open houses to get the information out to the public and to gauge interest on the different systems that could potentially replace the old model.
Setting up a date sooner rather than later is a priority due to the looming warm weather and farming season.
“I would think that before all of your farm labour disappears back to the farm, I would think that would be a good time to have a community visit. Soon as farming starts you won’t get hardly anybody,” said Bullock.
Council agreed to look at an April date for the open house with bins following.