Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Free" Week at the Landfill

Last week was a busy one for Councillor Williams and me. We helped a dozen residents of the city, from every ward except Ward 8, remove couches, tree branches, old cabinets, tables, and other garbage, load it in our honking big truck, and then took it out to the landfill. Three trips. We spent Tuesday and Thursday evenings, plus Friday and Saturday, doing this.

The people that we helped were those who, for reasons ranging from disability to lack of a vehicle, couldn't get out to the landfill. We helped seniors, single parents, recent immigrants. All were extremely grateful; some tried to pay us. For those who offered, we suggested that instead they could make a donation to the SPCA.

It was tiring, especially the afternoon when the truck died just outside of the landfill, and I had to leave it there and hike back into town, since my cell phone was at home recharging. That helped me learn how pedestrian-unfriendly our city is, when it comes to getting from the north side of the river back into town.

Despite being tired, I enjoyed the chance to meet residents one-on-one, and to make a practical difference in people's lives. I became a councillor because I wanted to make residents' lives better, and sometimes I wonder how much good we really do from council chambers for the average citizen. The people that we helped also got to get to know us a bit, not as people they might read about in the local paper, or see on council meeting broadcasts, but as two guys just trying to help out in a very basic way.

We did this because many of the services offered by the city aren't available to all citizens, and we wanted to help those who couldn't take advantage of "free" landfill week, even though they pay sanitation fees for such things. I still think that issuing tags for each residence, able to be used at any time, would allow us to track usage by city residents, and thus develop strategies for areas that under-utilize this service. This would also prevent people from outside the city from using our landfill at no cost to themselves. Perhaps next year.

I missed Executive Committee (and yet another special council meeting) on Tuesday, as I had some medical tests at the hospital this week. Nothing serious, just those routine things that you're encouraged to do once you're over 50. Not fun, but as my wife said when I grumbled about it: "It's better than dying."

"The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." - John Locke

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