Presentation to ACW Council, 2003-06-03
In response to the concerns expressed by representatives of about 20 township cottager associations attending the ACLA Spring Meeting on Saturday, 24 May, 2003, at St Joseph's Church basement, the ACLA was directed to undertake the presentation to Council tonight. Reeve Van Diepenbeek and Councillors Black, Fines and Miltenburg also attended, and once again, we want to express our appreciation to each of them for offering their valuable insights on this subject and the other topics discussed.
We propose to models for garbage and recyclables collection to meet the two quite different circumstances of accessibility along the lakefront (note the unique Amberley Beach situation is addressed specifically below):
Many residents currently on curbside pickup have wooden storage containers with a flip-top lid which are generally sized to hold a couple of garbage containers. Residents hang a wooden block on the side of the wooden container with the "yes" side out to indicate pickup is required. This practice should be continued and encouraged to avoid access by rodents and other animals. Township pickup should continue to support this system.
Any containers within these wooden storage containment facilities should be clearly marked as "Garbage" or "Recycling". All general garbage must be bagged with a tag. Residents choosing not to use containers would follow the standard practice of using green bags for general garbage or clear plastic bags for recycling. However, general garbage must be in tagged bags, whether it is in a curb-side container or not.
Health: Obviously bi-weekly collection will be awkward in summer because of heat and animal foraging. Bi-weekly will be like Sanitation Dept in Toronto on strike.
Recycling: Most if not all residents are aware of recycling and are supportive. We suggest a blue box collection method over clear plastic bags, if curbside collection is the method.
Frequency: Weekly frequency is required only in peak summer holiday season. Weekly frequency is required for health and tourism (rentals) issues.
Transfer Stations: Bulk bins have been tried on Amberley Beach and have failed (except for South Amberley Beach) because the volume of cottages requires about 30 cottagers per weekly bin. Would need about 4 to 5transfer stations on Amberley Beach x 2 if recycling is considered. There is no room to locate that number, although it could be conceivable in isolated pockets of cottage groups, such as South Amberley. So far this season, there is a dumpster bin for South Amberley Beach, (same as last year), which has been emptied twice since 24 May weekend.
Curb Side Boxes: Curbside pickup must be done from secure curbside boxes containing bags or secure garbage cans. Foraging animals appear to be able toget to suspended bags or even into garbage cans. Unattended curbside bags will not work in our environment, even if for only 1 day.
Road Access: The road access for the entire beach can be accessed by a collection truck but for 29 cottages where access is on a private road. There may be an issue of access and liability on private road. Historically, a dumpster was placed at the entrance to the private road. It would appear that the municipality has overlooked this with the bi-weekly curbside collection policy.
We recommend that a committee comprised of representatives from the Council and Canadian Waste meet to discuss and develop alternatives to the present program that will better meet the various needs detailed above, while giving consideration to the 3 year contract now in place. The specific requirements detailed herein for lakeshore residents should be the basis for service changes identified.
The ACWLA appreciates the opportunity to make this presentation and looks forward to hearing from you in this regard at the earliest opportunity.
The following is a compilation of other input received by the ACLA over the 4 days between May 24 (ACLA meeting) and May 29 (submission of ACLA brief). As such it represents a limited sample, Many of the thoughts expressed are consistent with the ACLA brief, there are some new ideas, and even some alternate approaches. The intent here is not to provide neat answers, but input for Council and staff to consider as they redesign the garbage collection system to better address lakefront needs.
NOTE: This view, expressed as follows by one individual about Council and staff process, communication, and priorities, echo the feelings of a number of other people.
I support the ACLA brief as drafted. It captures the essence of the issue quite well. I would suggest that the likely reaction of some members of Council may be "Well it looks like you folks have generally fixed the problems with local solutions that appear cost effective, so thanks for coming by and letting us know."
That may be so for some of the larger areas, but I am not sure it works well for the smaller ones, and the real issue , in my mind is bigger than garbage--It concerns how an issue was identified and solutions proposed without due consultation or consideration of the needs of the Lakefront community. The same thing occurred with their roads needs study a year ago. The area west of HWY 21 was generally not included. I think we also saw evidence of the same lack of consideration in the administration of the now empty Healthy Futures program that Ben referred to that was available to upgrade septic systems. I do not recall it being promoted to the Lakeshore residents although our septic systems, rightly or wrongly, are often cited by the non-lakefront residents as being significant contributors to the lake water quality problems. Similarly the funding available for capping abandoned wells in the township- I heard about it from someone in Picton, specifically referring to the funds available in our area, not from our local municipality. If they are ever going to be serious about ACW being an environmental leader, they are going to have to broaden their thought processes.
It has been so long since we had pickup that it had no longer become an issue for our small group. Ashfield removed our bin at the same time that they pulled the ones out of Port Albert. The bins had been abused by outsiders, mainly fishermen. The township added to the screw up by stopping service immediately after Labour Day, but didn't remove the bins, hence garbage overflowing and rotting. When people complained, there was the typical official response ... "You don't like it ... we'll remove the service."
The 9 of us share a locked bin and it generally works well. We occasionally find outsiders' garbage piled on the bin.
My recommendations would be as follows:
Take a customer oriented tailored approach (e.g. like Hurontel - they offer a package of full internet and phone service from May 1 to Oct 31 for half the yearly cost . They looked at their customer's needs and tailored a package that met those needs.
Added to this we need an acknowledgement from the staff that they realize that it is their responsibility to maintain the transfer areas. All of us are willing to pitch in in an emergency but do not want to become full time area cleanup personnel.
The following is a report from Birch Beach regarding garbage collection to assist the ACLA in making their presentation to Council at the June 3rd meeting. The input from the cottagers was almost unanimous that they are not satisfied with the new garbage collection system. We propose, therefore, the following:
I agree with the content of the presentation. Every beach will have its own set of problems. We have the added concern of crop land adjacent to the proposed pick up point. We had private dumpsters there for the last 12 years . . . non payers dumping, we absorbed the cost, and having to clean up refuse across the field etc. We have, in the past, cost shared with Brindley's Beach. This seems to have been dropped this year with no communication from them. Expect that is due to Township pickup.
I strongly believe that if pick up is every 2 weeks that rodents, litter and health hazards will be the new topic for the next ACLA meeting. Some people (most leave on Sunday evenings) who use the bag tag system will leave their garbage on the ground for a possible 8 days.
We (Linfield Beach) have inquired re private dumpster. There are very few (9-10) & had decided to hold off until after the Council meeting decisions. Boxes or dumpsters seem to be the only practical solution for those beaches that are close to vacant on Monday mornings.
I have no feed back re your presentation. I do know that all on our beach have been used to a dumpster. We will be happy if their costs do not skyrocket from there, and that they have pickup.
Generally we agree with what was written. We think the ideal situation for the garbage pickup is the 2 service models outlined, where curb side pickup is used for the areas where there is appropriate access like the farming community and locations like Amberly beach. In these areas it makes sense to use bag tags etc. and I seemed to remember from our May 24th meeting some people suggesting bi-weekly pickup year round, while others were suggesting 6 months of weekly pickup.
Most of my comments will focus on the other model to be used for the areas where curb-side pickup is not available. This is the situation at Kintail beach. In our discussions, it is clear that the health concerns of unattended garbage left in piles is the major worry. Of secondary concern, but also very high are worries about the mess that will be left as animals rip apart bags, the likelihood that cottagers and renters will leave bags outside their cottages for the weeks between pickups which will encourage rats and raccoons and finally how to handle the bags that are dumped without tags at the pickup point, especially by non residents. We have had experience in the past (several times a year) with dumping of bags near the dumpsters by people from the local trailer park and from the farming community. It required someone from our beach association to monitor usage and weekly cleanup the area. If they would now have to pay for bag tags I cannot see us getting any volunteers.
We have chosen to this year go the route of hiring a private contractor to provide a dumpster, but due to the cost we will not be providing a recycle dumpster. The cost of a garbage only dumpster is less than the cost of bag tags or the previous cost through the township for both a garbage and recycle dumpster. We do feel that it would be much better next year if the township provided the service of providing a garbage dumpster and possibly a recycle dumpster, without a bag tag requirement, and simply charged through property taxes the individual residents as has been done previously. This will keep the beach associations out of the "tax" collecting business that most associations are getting into this year to cover the cost of private contractors.
Specifically, in order to provide a better express the needs of those cottagers where curb side service is not available I would suggest the following section of the presentation be rewritten with the comments shown in italics.
Where curb-side Pickup is NOT Possible
I have read the ACLA submission to Council and have really no issue with any of the proposals. Not being familiar with Amberley Beach I do not think I should comment on their proposals. I had written to Marilyn Miltenburg regarding garbage collection and I believe she presented my suggestions to council. Needless to say it fell on deaf ears.
I believe that it is important to stress that the lakeshore does not want extra garbage pickups. Inland residents have 26 pickups per year, we should expect the same - even if the frequency of service varies depending on circumstances, but collections are not done year round which should even things out.
Excerpt from my letter to Marilyn Miltenburg (Ashfield Ward Councillor):
I am afraid there are no easy answers as it pertains to garbage and recycling pickup along the lake shore. But having said that, it is patently obvious that the proposed system as it stands now is simply unfair. In order for garbage and recycling collection to work it must have the consent and willing participation of residents, otherwise people will find other undesirable ways of disposing of garbage and not recycle.
For what it's worth here are a few suggestions:
That the township undertake, together with the contractor, an immediate survey of lake shore roads (assumed or un assumed and including, perhaps, private roads, but not shared driveways) to determine which roads are accessible for curbside pickup.
Once this has been done curbside pickup could be once a week beginning in July to Labour Day. Once every two weeks in May, June, September (after Labour Day) and October. During the winter months pick up every two weeks at transfer points at the top of the hill on assumed and plowed roads only.
The second alternative would be to provide the same service - bi-weekly pick up- to the lake shore as is provided for inland residents (once the roads have been surveyed for accessibility.
Since access to cottages along the lake front varies widely it is important that individual associations, or groups where no association exists, be allowed to present solutions relevant to their particular situation. Council and staff must have an open door policy to allow for continued service improvements and efficiencies. As we gather experience during this first year surely suggestions and solutions will present themselves which can be applied to the second year of operation.
For Huron Sands (with 48 cottages) we have had (for at least the past 15 years) dumpsters located on township property approximately half-way down our township owned and maintained access road. Our cottage roads are privately owned and not to township standard (width, grade, culvert crossings, etc). Our roads have no winter maintenance and our water system is only turned on between mid April and mid November. So, we are essentially a seasonal use area at this time.
This year, the initial proposal was to have 1 large transfer point serving not only our 48 cottages, but also 8 other cottages to our north. This was objected to by the cottage owners near the proposed transfer point and the decision was made to have curb-side pickup for 26 of the 56 cottages, and 4 smaller transfer points for the remaining areas that were deemed inaccessible for the garbage trucks. There is now some confusion about whether or not this will continue as the trucks had some difficulty with even these 26.
So, our needs from a garbage collection standpoint fall into 2 categories -- frequency and access. From a frequency perspective, every 2 weeks is simply not frequent enough. I think that our association could be best served with weekly pickup during the seasonal period of mid April to mid November. I'm sure that even a compromise of 26 pickups spanning the period of May through October would be acceptable if that would keep parity with the rest of the township (we have 26 pickups just like everyone else, just that ours are weekly through 6 months instead of bi-weekly through 12 months). The access question is the tougher one to answer. I think that our association was OK with the dumpster arrangement that we had in the past. We suffered some abuse from both within our association and outside -- some large items were left in or near the dumpsters. However, I think that using a lock and keys will help solve the outsider abuse problem. Additionally, if the door with the lock is small enough (maybe 2 foot square), then the large item abuse can be minimized as well.
The recycling issue is more problematic and I don't think that there is an adequate solution. I think the "least bad" solution would be for us to cart our recyclables home (as some of us did last summer when our recyclables dumpster was removed due to repeated contamination from garbage).
A flaw I have with the ACLA proposal is that leaving the bin unlocked on the pickup day (ie, from 7am on) is going to result in non-paying people quickly learning how to get rid of their garbage for free. However, if the bins had a small front-loading lockable door for use by the cottagers and a top-opening lockable lid for emptying, then CWS could control the tops without having to carry many dozens of one-per-bin keys for the fronts.
To me, the ACLA brief doesn't reflect the three-point consensus from the HSBA spring meeting on May 18, that we'd like to return to bins in the same location the Township's bins used to be, locked so that we don't need to mess with the hassles of having to have bag tags, and paid for on our tax bill ... even those of us for whom curbside pickup is scheduled, so that we don't have to go to the pain of creating and placing and suffering the sight and smells of our own individual garbage-container boxes at our driveways.