Recognize/remediate the problem with new inadequate garbage carts.

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Recognize/remediate the problem with new inadequate garbage carts.

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The new garbage carts that were handed out to residents of Okotoks in April of 2012 are an unrealistic size.  The size of the garbage bin is 120L (fits only 1 regular black garbage bag) and has a major design flaw (tapered bottom). 


Problem #1- Lack of recycling program;

 We understand the Towns intitiative for this size of garbage cart is to encourage residents to recycle more.  Recycling is a great initiative and we agree that recycling is good for the environment, but even with recycling as much as possible the 120L demand is still not attainable for a family of 3 or more people.  Also- the Town did not give residents any motivation or education regarding recycling. Even now they are only offering a 'garbage auditor' to come to your house and go through your garbage to tell you what can be recycled. This only happens if you call in with concerns and request this.  Every household is charged $3.69 per month for the Okotoks Recycling center fee.  If residents want to have curb side pick up its an extra charge of $9 per month.  With this service 2 small tupperware sized bins are given with plastic shower cap covers.  These are cumbersome and messy.  The plastic covers dont stay on very well and when they blow off, the wind blows cardboard and plastic all over.  These are also too small for the amount of recycling that needs to be done to meet the 120L garbage limit.  If you have more recycling you can request more bins from curb side recycling.  So now you have to find a place to keep all 4 bins, carry them to the curb, put a cover on each one on garbage pull out your garbage cart.  Then at the end of your long work day take 3 more trips back and forth to pull the garbage bin and 4 recycling bins off the street and back in your garage and or backyard.  If you dont want to pay the 9 dollars for curb side you can take recycling to the Okotoks recycling center yourself which is costing you 3.69 per month regardless of you using the facility or not.  This center requires each person dropping off plastic to sort it themselves, which is rather time consuming. By taking recycling to this center they are making money off the materials you drop off.    As you can see the options for recycling are a bit of a joke, considering this is the main initiative of the town implementing small garbage bins.  With the amount of recycling residents need to do now the Town needs to implement a recycling program that makes sense and can accomodate all the materials in one bin.  If the Town creates a recycling program that is motivating and convenient for residents to recycle part of this problem will be solved.

 Problem #2- Major design flaws

The tapered bottom of the garbage bin creates a situation where garbage gets stuck in the bottom of the bin. When this occurs residents have to call the town and have the garbage truck come back to pick it up. This is creating a hassle for the garbage collectors as it adds an unscheduled pick up to their day. It also wastes fuel. Furthermore when the Town started getting more and more calls about this problem their solution was to tell everyone that calls in with garbage that was left behind to;

-take it to the dump themselves

- stop pushing garbage down in the bin so hard as this is why the garbage is getting stuck

-start using only white kitchen bags to put garbage in as the big black garbage bags gets stuck more frequently in the taper then a bunch a small white bags.

Well, using more white kitchen bags is creating more plastic for the landfill...which is going agaisnt the towns initiative of creating less garbage. The Towns above 'solution idea' to the design flaw is a knee jerk reaction to the mistake they have made. 

The garbage cart is also top heavy (because of the tapered bottom) and tips over very easily.  It is cheaply constructed (bins have been reported cracked and broken within the first 3 months of use during the summer).  What is going to happen to these bins when the temperatures are sub zero in the winter and we have to drag them through snow and ice to get to the curb/back alleys for pickup?


  Prior to the new 'Cart It' program the Town sent out a survey asking residents if they would prefer an automated garbage system.  It has been published over and over that 90% of people surveyed were in favor of this program.  It was hard to find someone that was actually surveyed and when I did she stated the survey was very misleading and didnt address the issue of the size of garbage bin correctly.  If she knew now what she was unaware of then she would not have answered the questions the same way.  Many people have complained to the Town Council regarding this issue yet not a word has been spoken in the media about residents dissatisfaction.  We feel the Town is 'sweeping this issue under the rug' in hopes people will stop complaining and everything will be fine.  This is not going to be the case.


  Residents are having to get creative in order to dispose of garbage that wont fit in the bins ie- take it to the dump themselves.  Putting gross garbage in vehicles is messy, time consuming, costly and is putting gas emissions in the atmosphere. The amount of household garbage being taken to the landfill on the south side of town has increased 3 fold.  This is great for the landfills revenue.  Some residents are secretly dumping in public dumpsters, leaving garbage in ditches, taking garbage with them to Calgary and putting it in friends/families garbage bins for the City of Calgary to pick up. Garbage is piling up in backyards, is stinky and attracting animals/insects. The Sheep River that runs through the middle of town is a wildlife corridor and with animals such as deer and cougars roaming through town storing garbage in backyards is only going to attract more animals closer to home, this poses a risk to residents. Garbage still exists and it needs to be dealt with properly.  The town would rather turn a blind eye to the garbage that exists then admit they made a mistake and try to fix the problem.


  The Town Council cannot deny any longer that the majority of families in Okotoks are struggling to meet the demand 120L of household garbage weekly.We understand Council wants to encourage residents to recycle everything they can BUT council has not given residents any education, tools or motivation to make that happen. Implementing the 120L bins WITHOUT notifying residents of the garbage amount restriction has upset the majority of residents and we would like to see changes. If changes are not seen soon the town is going to become flooded with garbage that is not disposed of properly.

We would like Okotoks Town Council to remediate the problem by;

1- Giving tax paying residents of Okotoks the option of using a garbage cart that will hold a larger, more realistic amount of garbage.

2-Creating and implementing a recycling program that is convenient and makes sense.

Understanding that the above solutions will take time and money- an immediate, interim solution is to allow each household one extra black garbage bag (no extra fee for this) in addition to the garabage cart. This is to be placed beside the garbage cart on garbage pick up day.


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