By Greg Price
When it comes to the Village of Barnwell, it will be no more Mr. Nice Guy when it comes to garbage services with leniency in its bylaws, where people have to clean up their act.
“We have been having some real issues with people with way too many bags that are like 50 to 70 pounds (in garbage weight), where he’s trying to toss it into his truck. People are buying really cheap bags and they sit out and he picks them up and he loses the bottom of them and it all spills out,” said Wendy Bateman, CAO for the Village of Barnwell, at council’s May 16 meeting.
Bateman has read through the village’s garbage bylaw, which shows OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) standards where people who are lifting garbage bags for disposal, should not be lifting bags over 30 pounds.
“That’s what our bylaw says. I’ve instructed him to not lift it and just leave it there,” said Bateman, adding the garbage man has weighed bags on a scale for verification of weights that are more than twice than what is recommended by the bylaw. “I’ve suggested that we maybe make up stickers and stick them on the bags to tell people how much they weigh, so people can understand the weight of their garbage. If he picks up a garbage bag and loses the bottom of it, it is all over him and all over the street, and he simply does not have the time to stop and scrap that up, and nor should he have to with people using inferior bags.”
Bateman recommended sending out a bulletin to people reminding them that their garbage bags cannot weigh more than 30 pounds or else they will be left. And if bags are left out on the street, it is a contravention of the bylaw.
“People have made comments that they don’t care, because all they get charged is three dollars and it’s not going to stop me from doing it. It’s only $3, I am able to put out as much garbage out as I want,” said Bateman about the Saturday garbage pick up. “Apparently, that’s not stiff enough for people to stop doing that. He (the garbage man) simply can’t manage the volume that we have. We’ve added a lot of houses since we instituted that bylaw (1998). We’ve probably doubled in population.”
Bateman was looking for an endorsement from town council to put more teeth into the repercussions of people constantly putting garbage out that weighs well past standards.
“You are going to get phone calls from people once garbage is being left. I thought he was guesstimating, and he used to, but then he got a scale that he hangs the bag on, and seriously, he has some that are 75 pounds,” said Bateman. “He goes to the door, he knocks on the door and they just don’t care. They think that’s his job, and it’s not — he’s going to wreck his back. He should not have to pick up bags that are that heavy, nor should he have to clean up the mess if the bag is inferior. They are just being cheap and they are overloading the bags and it spills all over the street.”
The village’s bylaw reads that all owners or occupants of a property are to ensure garbage is not allowed to spill over or accumulate on any land or street to keep the front and rear of their premise to the centre line street in clean and tidy condition, free of refuse or garbage.
“What was happening is he left it and then they get mad,” said Bateman. “He fills out a sheet and tells us which bags weren’t tagged or how heavy they were and we add a charge onto their utility bill, but $3, who cares?”
The village has tried to be good neighbours in not being a stickler with its garbage bylaws, but as Bateman noted, perhaps greater adherence would ensure more compliance to keep garbage weights down for pick up.
“In actuality with the bylaw, the bylaw says the first offence of the contravention of the bylaw is $25. The second offence is $100 and the third offence is $250. I suppose if they had a $250 fee on their garbage, they might think twice about it,” said Bateman.
Councillors added they doubted the local garbage man was going to get micromanaging over bags that may be a few pounds over, but given that some bags are way over the allowable weight, something has to be done.
“I’d like to get the support from council that this is going to happen, and it’s not just going to be a little penalty, you are going to get fined. Your garbage is going to be left,” said Bateman.