Comparing Napanee’s garbage collection plans to other Ontario municipalities

When I first read of our new Napanee garbage collection proposal, passed by our Napanee Council on April 25, 2023, I was shocked. Though I’m sure a lot of discussion went on behind closed doors, the speed at which these changes would be then instituted May 1, 2023 was suspect to me.

When I moved to this town in 2008 bag tags were $2. I had never paid for bag tags in the 21 years that I lived in the town of Amherstburg or the 15 prior to that in the town of Fonthill ( now Pelham). In 2019, I think it was, the tags went up to $3 and now it is $4 in 2023. Whenever there was to be an increase in the cost, I would buy 30 to 50 tags at the old price. Smart idea, so I thought. However, I have heard that a few residents, when they heard about the increase, but not fully the story behind how it would be instituted, bought large amounts of bag tags at $3 the old price at the new municipal office location and when  fully-informed (even on the same day of their purchases) tried to get a refund (as you would for almost anything that you purchase) were denied the refund. Not right in my book.
The “grapevine” has rumours that our town is needing money. Don’t forget that we didn’t have to use tags all through the pandemic and this is a big bite. Is there anything else we don’t know about?
The Council has now voted to implement a tax levy of $100 on our final tax bill for June through September. They will mail out 25 -$4 bag tags to use from July through to the end of the year. Next year, 2024, they will send out 50 tags and there will be an accompanying $200 on your 2024 tax bill. You might say, “What’s the problem…that’s fair.” No, it is not because many of our residents put out garbage less frequently than one bag per week, others who have local businesses put their residential garbage out with their business trash. Regardless of how little trash you need to put out from July until December they are going to charge you for 25 tags, with no refunds for unused bag tags and, on top of that, you will receive your next year’s 50 bag tags and your tax increase. You will have to find some way to resell them to recoup the money paid out when not necessary.

My feeling is that this proposal should have been sent out as a mailing in the next tax bill due at the end of June to be implemented next year if approved with public input. It should not be shoved on residents without related information and consultation. Without prejudice, some might call that anarchy.

Because it came so quickly upon us, I decided to see how garbage collection was handled by towns in Ontario with about the same population. I investigated 15 different towns with populations from ours, Napanee, at the lowest 16,926 in 2022, to the highest being Prince Edward County, including Picton with 26,816. The others I investigated were Amherstburg, Bracebridge, Cobourg, Essex, Huntsville, Kingsville, Lincoln (including Beamsville), Midland, Owen Sound, Pelham, Petawawa, Port Hope, and Tillsonburg.
The one thing that was evident in all areas was that our landfills are filling up rapidly across Ontario. That is all the more reason to reduce, reuse and recycle. We should be aiming for less garbage. Most towns are now charging $4.25 for a tag, but they are only used on a need-based plan. You buy tags to meet your own personal needs not on a mandate-based plan. Many of the towns are way ahead, and have been for years, already recycling table wastes in the green compost bins and that is collected weekly. “Biodegradable material such as food waste constitutes approximately 40 per cent of the residential waste stream in Canada, therefore diversion of organic materials is essential to reach high diversion targets.” There are so many benefits to mankind from simple composting.
I may be wrong, but read recently that the mailing out of these bag tags will be at a cost of $10,000. Let’s change directions, give this more thought and community involvement, and put this $10,000 towards implementing the green bin program and decrease the amount we all put into garbage bags, and ultimately our landfills. Many of the communities that I researched also have new innovative ways to store and collect waste in their communities.

Looking back to 2019, our former council passed a motion to authorize town staff to negotiate a 10-year contract with Waste Management.  As I understand there is a Non-Disclosure Agreement attached to this contract. Can this be so?  For me, there are far too many decisions made behind closed doors. The residents should be allowed full disclosure to all goings-on that concern how our tax dollars are spent. I hope to share my findings on the municipalities at a later date if anyone is interested. This town of Napanee is a great place to live but we must all be given the information about how we can work together to make it better and make it fair and more affordable for all residents. Full disclosure and transparency is how we spawn new, innovative ideas to grow and improve our community.

Susan Bramburger



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