Last spring, garbage collection in my block of Ward 3 was changed to roll-out bins rather than the big bins in the alley. I had made the motion at council after enduring years of having the bins filled by people not from the neighbourhood using them as free places to dump their garbage, of finding garbage spread around the bins and through the alley, and of finding piles of hundreds of discarded needles next to the bins.
The change has been remarkable - there is much less garbage lying about. It is a bit of a hassle to remember which day is garbage day versus which day is recycling day, but fortunately for me, Andrea is the early riser in the house, and usually has the appropriate bin out by the alley before I've finished my coffee. Just so you don't think I'm a total slacker, I usually manage to get the empty bin back to the yard before she comes home from work.
So no more problems with finding the big garbage bins full with non-resident garbage, or the recycling contaminated with garbage. We find that every other week pick-up is sufficient for both garbage and recycling for our household - if anything, the recycling bin fills more quickly.
The change meant that the apartment bins behind us had to move to large commercial bins, and unfortunately, non-residents who feel that it's okay for other people to pay for their garbage disposal still take advantage and feel that it's their right to fill these bins. Just yesterday, Andrea came in from filling the bird feeder to say that there was a truck pulled up to the dumpster of the building behind us, and she was pretty sure that it had Manitoba plates.
I went out to investigate, and asked the couple if they lived in the building, because otherwise they shouldn't be dumping their garbage there. Not too surprisingly, I was told to mind my own business and not be so nosy - with a few colourful adjectives thrown in, of course. I told them that it was my business, as councillor for the area,and got the licence number of the truck, which was a Manitoba plate. With a few more insults and expletives tossed my way, they got into their truck and drove away, while I called by-law enforcement to report the incident and provide what information I could.
This isn't an unusual occurrence. I've observed at least four different trucks do the same thing, and the building owner has dropped by to complain about the situation. I appreciate his frustration - he's paying for a bin for his tenants, not for thoughtless people, just as I would get annoyed when my sanitation fees were paying for other people's garbage disposal, often at the expense of my own.
I think that one of the solutions, for the city costs at least, is to move all residents to roll-out bins. Right now a small majority of residents (maybe 60%) have roll-out service. I know that they are a bit more work for residents, but they help to ensure that the garbage that goes to the landfill has been paid for, either through sanitation bills or by the people bringing their garbage directly to the dump. It would remove some of the ease with which non-residents can cruise down a back alley and get rid of their garbage for free.
As for my apartment neighbours, I'll continue to be nosy and not mind my own business, and call by-law when I see a suspicious truck. And maybe I'll suggest to the building owner that he see if the bin can be moved to a less easily accessible spot. And at council, I'll be pushing for more roll-out bins - they do reduce the amount of garbage in the area, which makes for a nicer neighbourhood.
"Garbage is, always. We will die, civilization will crumble, life as we know it will cease to exist, but trash will endure." - Robin Nagle