Archive for the ‘Garbage’ Category

Be Careful When Meeting With Garbage Contractor, Councillors Told

- April 7th, 2014

Behind the scenes, city clerk and solicitor Rick O’Connor has felt the need to speak up about meetings councillors might be having with one of the city’s garbage collection contractors.

Miller Waste has contracts for two of the five collection zones in the city. The two zones cover areas just south of the core and they fan out across the rural south. So, the company is interested in meeting with councillors to see how the services are going.

Here’s one of the concerns O’Connor has. Miller Waste meets with councillors about its collection service, and oh by the way, let’s talk about that waste processing facility we want to build in the east end. That last part would be lobbying and should be recorded as such.

(The city’s lobbyist registry shows three entries, from what I can see, related to the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre that Miller Waste and Taggart Construction want to build.)

There are other issues, too: Providing Miller Waste with personal information about a resident who has been complaining about trash pickup; Not properly recording the complaints so managers can monitor contract performance; and, potentially getting in the way of the city pursuing damages against Miller Waste if there’s an issue of contract non-compliance.

Not to say councillors can’t meet with Miller Waste. But O’Connor just wants to make sure councillors understand the legal issues.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Cleaning Litter Costs Taxpayers Millions

- April 7th, 2014

More than 600 cigarette butts littered the ground along Elgin St. between Gilmour and MacLaren streets on Sunday, April 6, 2014 and as more snow melts the problem will only get worse. JESSIE ARCHAMBAULT/Ottawa Sun/QMI AGENCY

Our front-page story today by Jessie Archambault on cigarette butt litter reminded me of a column a couple of years ago by Anthony Furey.

Pretty bang on, I think.

You really don’t realize how much people litter until spring when all the grossness is revealed during the snowmelt.

Here’s that Furey column…

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Are litterbugs lazy, stupid, inconsiderate or all three?

ANTHONY FUREY

The city is spending $5 million a year picking up the garbage residents leave lying around. How can this be? I asked. Surely you’re not all such scofflaws that you’re wilfully dirtying up our city. It dawned on me that maybe many of you just don’t know what litter is. So out of love for my tarnished city, I offer you a crash course on trash I always see lying about that maybe you don’t realize is litter:

CIGARETTE BUTTS

Smokers must think they operate in a different reality than the rest of us. We’ve all seen it : Someone finishes a smoke, tosses it to the ground, stamps it out (if they even do that), then just walk away. But I’m sure if you ever called them out on it, they’d give you a big FU. Would they be as ballsy to respond so if you called them out for throwing away a pop can? Probably not. So why the self-righteousness? It takes up to 15 years for a butt to decompose. They’re litter. Oh, and by the way, so is the plastic wrappings people toss to the wind and the whole damn package you often see discarded on the bus or on a park bench.

GUM

Gum on the sidewalk or under a park bench takes times and money to scrape off. But people think if they just spit out their gum it’s small enough it won’t matter. Well what if thousands of people do it regularly? It adds up.

BANK STUBS

Bank machines are always surrounded by discarded bank receipts. This one is especially irksome because it’s blatantly unnecessary. First of all, most machines give you the option of whether you even get one printed or not. Second, there’s always a garbage right at the machine for you to place the receipt in. And why on earth would you want to leave your account number and balance lying around for people to see?

DOG POO

People who are obsessed with their pets want animals to be given greater legal rights than humans, but also want their animals exempt from abiding by all laws. This includes dog poo. I don’t care how wonderful your dog is, his poo isn’t some magic elixir to charm the neighbourhood with. It needs to be picked up. The absolute worst is when someone does pick up the poo in a plastic bag and then just leaves the plastic bag lying around in the park or on the sidewalk. Right, because leaving a plastic bag lying around isn’t littering.

FOOD ITEMS

Not all food items compost quickly. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean leaving them in the middle of a park garden isn’t littering. It actually takes a banana peel two years to decompose. Put your food waste in the bin with the rest of the garbage.

“FREE STUFF”

The “free stuff ” box you place out on the sidewalk in front of your house is litter. It’s garbage. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be putting it out there. You all know what I’m talking about. When you pass by a house and there’s a cardboard box with the word “free” written in black Sharpie. Whenever I pass by one I always see the same stupid items that no one would ever want: A child’s place mat with stains on it, a copy of a Windows DOS programming manual from the early 1980s and a rusted metal can opener. If you put these out on any day other than garbage day, you’re littering. If you don’t bring in the box after it’s become clear no one wants your crap, you’re littering.

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Take these lessons to heart and maybe we’ll save ourselves a bit of coin and pretty up the old town while we’re at it.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Trash Collection Overtime Answer

- August 27th, 2013

Not too long ago I checked in with the city about overtime costs on garbage collection. You can find the city’s answer here, but the gist is the city doesn’t think it’s fair to compare yearly OT budgets because collection zones and schedules have changed. So, the city said we would have to wait for an update for politicians in November.

I should have known the lack of a yes or no answer meant something was fishy, because here is the overtime line for solid waste services in the Q2 2013 financial update published late this afternoon.

Taken from the Q2 2013 compensation report to be received by the finance and economic development committee.

The department spent 142% of its OT budget at the end of June. It has blown its OT budget already. On biweekly residual garbage pickup.

There might be a very logical explanation for this. I’ll endeavour to find out.

Plasco Requests Post-Election Extension

- August 15th, 2013

Plasco Energy Group has requested an extension to a deadline to come up with financing for a $200-million commercial waste-to-energy plant.

And the city is agreeing to extend the deadline to Dec. 31, 2014 — after the next municipal election.
The original deadline was last March. Then council agreed to extend it to this month.

On Aug. 8, Plasco CEO Rod Bryden wrote to the city asking for another extension.

Bryden tells the city the company has $25 million in firm commitments for purchases. Nearly $5 million has already been paid out. Long-term borrowing is still being worked out, so is an agreement with the Ontario Power Authority to sell electricity generated by the plant.

It will be up to council. The environment committee will get the first crack next Thursday.

I talked to Bryden earlier in the day and he declined to talk about the extension until after the report went public.

Story soon at ottawasun.com.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Financial Update On Garbage Changes Not Until 2014

- August 6th, 2013

I’m catching up on e-mails after being away last week and came across a response the city sent me after I asked a question about garbage collection overtime. An anonymous tipster phoned alleging OT was up this year compared to other years. The tipster’s claim was that, yes, residual garbage collection is biweekly now but collectors are spending more time at each stop because there is more trash to pick up.

I asked the city simply if garbage collection overtime is up. The response came from environmental services general manager Dixon Weir (via the communications department):

As the service delivery levels and scale of the various collection zones has changed significantly, year-over-year comparisons would not be valid. The city has a commitment to transparency and will be presenting a comprehensive report to council on the November 2012 through November 2013 financial figures for the in-house Solid Waste Collection Contract in early 2014.”

So, we’ll have to wait until next year to hear a financial update on the garbage collection changes, which staff sold on the promise of saving $10 million annually. No answer, though, on that overtime question. Of the five collection zones, the city “in-house” team has two covering the downtown and the east. First-year costs for each of those zones, as approved by council, were $5.5 million and $5.8 million respectively.

While staff are planning a report in the new year, I expect that councillors will ask for an update before approving the 2014 budget.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.