The “out of control” and “disgusting headache” garbage bin situation plaguing Midtown alleyways appears to have found its solution.
Monday night, at city council's first gathering of 2018, a vigorous debate was had over ending the petition process for the 13-year issue that has brought rodents, crime and decreased property values to the area.
At a mid-October council meeting, countless letters and photos of overflowing, burning or knocked over bins centred heavily in the Midtown neighbourhood were presented to council and branded as a “real problem” on the streets. The letters read how residents have reached out countless times requesting help from the city but to little or no avail.
“[The bin issue] has turned Midtown into a shopping centre for thieves [and] drug addicts looking to make a quick buck or two,” Midtown resident Dave Mulhall said during his appeal to council Monday, noting criminals are looting the bins, yards and garages.
He said for the past number of years he has kept a rake by his garage to clean up the mess and routinely has to shoo away wildlife, most recently coyotes. Mulhall reiterated how the primary concern for residents was having the ability to hold offenders to account.
“Plans take time, however, how long until patience runs out?” he added.
A report in November recommended the city replace the 300-gallon collection bins to 95-gallon garbage bins, and 65-gallon recycling bins on a request and need basis. A five-year citywide implementation would run just over $44,000 per year.
A phased-in approached to this method was preferred by council at the time, with priority given to the critical neighbourhoods, as many expressed how budgeting upwards of $230,000 in one pass could be difficult. Thus, a petition process was unanimously passed by council to phase in the program.
However, Mulhall said this caused tension in the neighbourhood to boil over and a war of words to ensue, leading only to greater issues in the neighbourhood. He did note, however, how the few blocks where roll-out bins have already been introduced, the problems have been mitigated.
Because of this, council felt it best to scrap the petition idea and move forward as soon as possible with the wheelie bin program for Midtown. Larger commercial bins would be used for apartments.
Noting the problem was not exclusive to Midtown, Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick threw himself into somewhat of a spat with Mulhall, saying “You can’t ask a 90-year-old lady to roll a bin from her backyard to the front.”
He said the sidewalks were too thin and the front yards not made to accommodate the bins. He added how he recently drove down 12th St. and “all you see is bins in the front yard.”
“Is that attractive for that neighbourhood? I don’t know,” he said. “I think if we are going to do roll out bins, we could put them in the back alley and roll them out to the back alley and have the city pick them up in the back alley.”
Firing back, Mayor Greg Dionne told Ogrodnick not to “drive down his street” as “my bin is never in my backyard.”
“It is nearly by my front door and so is my four neighbours because everyone knows what they are,” he said. “They are not an eyesore. Everyone knows what they are.”
Mulhall agreed, telling Ogrodnick to tell all the seniors to “phone me and I will roll it out for them.”
Others made note how in some sections of the city, wheelie bins are placed in the back alley and picked up there, adding it should be no problem to accommodate that need.
Mulhall agreed, saying all the neighbourhood wants is a way to “hold people accountable.”
After a revision of the revised wheelie bin program motion, some debate arose as to what to do with the large black communal bins, as some residents have expressed a vested interest in keeping those bins.
“I think that we need to respect different needs of different areas of the city,” Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp said. “This motion doesn’t do that.”
Coun. Charlene Miller agreed, saying while many areas in the West Flat already have wheelie bins, one large communal bin is also in the back alley for those who have additional garbage or large items.
More back and forth ensured, but one idea was finally settled upon: deal with the issue in Midtown in a quick manner and come up with a plan to deal with the rest of the city later.
Council passed an amended motion to scrap the petition process, speed up the wheelie bin roll out where they are needed in Midtown specifically and bring back a report on rolling out the bins in the rest of the city as required.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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