Friday, September 18, 2009

Quebec Garbage Wars

The latest issue that has Quebec citizens facing off against each other is not sovereignty or language, it's an issue that's much more personal - it's garbage.

The City of Quebec has launched a pilot project whereby garbage is picked up just once every two weeks, with citizens expected to compost what they can and keep the 'clean' garbage until the bi-weekly pickup.
This has lead residents in one of the pilot project neighbourhoods, to start a petition demanding that weekly pickups resume because of the odour and inconvenience.
It seems that the 600 people who signed the petition are out of luck, the city is determined to stick to it's guns.

According to Guy Fortin, who started the petition, the collection every two weeks, leads to the garbage bins becoming infested with maggots. "You need a strong heart, not to mention the flies!"

The small compost bin is also decidedly not for Mr. Fortin, who says that food scraps attract raccoons. "They are smart, they manage to open the trash,"

The debate has touched off a lively debate in the letters section of Quebec City newspapers between the complainers and the 'Granolas' who continue to support this program.

Here's a sample of two;
"A citizen of the Les Saule district, whose name escapes me, but who I'll call by the pseudonym "Popa", described a serious problem. He complained that garbage collection wasn't frequent enough and he opposed the introduction of the collection of compostable organic materials in Quebec.

His main argument? The odour, when he opens his garbage can and the presence of grubs. I'm not a fan of foul odours and grubs, I am however able to hold my breath and capable of putting on a pair of gloves.

Do you know that our landfills are overflowing and are highly polluting and that composting takes just a little effort? It's something that we all can do to reduce this problem.

Don't you understand that collecting garbage more frequently increases the number of trucks on the road, and consequently the CO2 emissions? We all know the consequences of carbon emissions, the smog that has shrouded Quebec on humid days is proof. Tell your garbage problems to children in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, I doubt they'll complain.

The city of Quebec offers adequate garbage collection and the reduced frequency reduces our ecological footprint, which is in itself a positive thing. Composting must continue and even be expanded.
-Alexandre Armstrong, Québec

(In reaction to the letter of Mr. Alexander Armstrong, 'Fear and Loathing in the district of Les Saules ") -

I am one of those whom you call Pôpa!, One of those who is stuck with a hard and a soft trash can.
Father of four children, I am the neighbour of Mr. Guy Fortin, who lives across the street and with whom I have launched a petition calling for a return to weekly collection, while maintaining the collection of compost-able waste.

We have been portrayed as if we are against the composting project. While some residents are totally against it, some of us are completely for it. Personally I participate actively in the collection of compost-able materials, but I still say that weekly collection for garbage is not a luxury, at least for the summer.

With regard to increasing the frequency of garbage collection, understand that until recently, several sectors of the city, including ours, were entitled to two collections per week, for the summer at least. The area in reference is divided into two sections, one sector is in the pilot project zone and the other is not. However, the sector not in the pilot project zone continues to have weekly collection. So the trucks are already circulating in the area and it wouldn't change much in relation to the production of greenhouse gas emissions, as you mention. And your comparison with the slums of Rio de Janeiro is lame, especially when I look at my tax bill!

I don't know what area you live in, but I suppose it's likely you live in a sector served by a weekly collection. You say that you can hold your breath, bravo to you, but try to remember that when you take an hour long walk in your neighbourhood. This summer, during periods of heat, our noses were assaulted by noxious odors, not to mention the omnipresent flies and increased amount of pests (raccoons, rats, etc.).

Despite our best efforts in recycling and composting, the fact remains that some items are neither compost-able or recoverable- diapers, cat litter, dog droppings and other such materials.

Several residents have even been told by city employees to put their garbage in the freezer to prevent odours and insect infestations.

We are not extremists, we ask only one weekly service, which in the interest of basic hygiene is considered essential.

-Stéphane Turcotte, Quebec

Scary business. Just think, this war is coming to your neighbourhood soon, it's a matter of time.

Me, I'm prepared.

I've got my garburator and I've got my trash compactor. I'm thinking about a getting an extra set in reserve.

The time is fast approaching when both will be illegal!

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