By Trevor Busch
Taber Communities in Bloom is lobbying the Town of Taber to expand its three-cart solid waste collection initiative into commercial areas of the community, including public buildings, churches and schools.
Correspondence was received from Taber Communities in Bloom on Aug. 16 requesting that the town expand its solid waste collection system, and was discussed by town council at their Sept. 10 regular meeting.
“As a group, we feel the town is really missing out on an opportunity to recycle, compost and reduce trash in our community,” said Taber Communities in Bloom secretary Jan Clemis in the organization’s written submission. “Our townspeople have heartily embraced the three-bin system, and yet many venues in town are not able to access their instinct to separate refuse because the bins are not in place.”
When the town’s three-cart solid waste initiative was rolled out in 2016, implementation was restricted to Taber’s residential areas. Future plans to expand the program into the industrial and commercial areas of the community were discussed by town council at the time, but have yet to be implemented.
In the group’s letter, Clemis outlined the mixed message being sent to local students who are encouraged to separate their trash, recyclables and compost at home, but are not subject to the same strictly-defined rules while at school.
“One example is our schools. Our students use the three-bin system at their homes, yet in their classrooms and cafeterias the bins are not available unless the teacher makes a habit of asking the students to recycle paper or drink containers. All those leftovers from lunches just go in the trash, when at home they would have been composted.”
Similarly troubling for Taber Communities in Bloom is the same problem at town-owned facilities utilized by the public throughout the community.
“At public events in the community centre we see a similar situation unfolding. At a wedding or public event, unless the group renting the space specifically separates the recycling, the bins are not available.”
Clemis’ letter referred to these issues as a “missed opportunity” on the part of the Town of Taber to expand its solid waste collection system.
“When we brought in the three-bin system, the intent all along was to expand it to the industrial side of the community, the restaurants, motels and hotels,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas. “We’ve probably been a little lax in doing that, but I think what we need to do is have public works put together a plan on how effectively we can work with this, work through it, and give it to administration. It’s going to be a little bit onerous getting everybody on side, but it’s definitely something we had discussed when we started this thing.”
Responding to a question from Mayor Andrew Prokop, CAO Cory Armfelt explained that the process isn’t as easy as implementation of a three-cart system for residential.
“To solve this service question is not as easy to solve the service question with residential, because as a resident, you probably don’t have a contract with a recycling provider to come pick up all your cardboard already, where there are some of those instances occurring in the industrial and commercial areas where businesses are looking after their own recycling or food waste on their own.”
According to public works, their focus has been on the recycling component of the solid waste initiative, and interest in implementation of the system among prospective industrial and commercial businesses has not been strong.
“We’ve already sent out surveys to all of our commercial accounts on the three-cart system,” said public works clerk Lisa DeBona. “We didn’t get a very good response back from them regarding it because of the fees they pay.”
“So to go down to from a 32 cubic yard bin to 95 gallon carts without a reduction in fees, they weren’t interested. So there’s going to have to be some discussion with our fees for commercial, maybe bringing forward some tiers with different options for them. There hasn’t been much interest in composting. We have been working one on one with all the ones that were interested in it. We do have some businesses out there, and groups like Taber Manor and Homestead Manor, they compost. Recreation, they compost all of their grass clippings, that kind of thing. It’s too expensive to do big places right now like IGA with the contractors we have.”
DeBona explained that public works interacts on a one on one basis with some individual schools in the community, but noted invitations that have been extended to local school divisions have not seen an overwhelming response.
“As far as schools, we have St. Pat’s and Taber Christian School, they compost in every classroom and it’s picked up. We did send a letter to Horizon (School Division), so far they haven’t had an interest. So we have been working with them, but it’s more on a one on one basis who expresses interest to us.”
Recreation director Aline Holmen pointed out that accommodations for carts can be made by request for various events ongoing in the community.
“For all of our public events this year, we had different carts out there available, with the exception of Summer Games, because there wasn’t enough carts available to accommodate.”
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to accept the correspondence from Taber Communities in Bloom as information only, and in a follow up motion directed administration to draft a letter to the organization advising that correspondence had been previously sent to area school divisions inviting them to participate in the program.