In preparation for a new garbage pick-up system, the public was invited to see it in action and learn more.
Over 150 people came out to the Armoury Tuesday night to see the new truck and a demonstration of it at work before receiving more information on how the garbage pick-up process will work.
New garbage carts are being dropped off around town this week, with 64-gallon bins arriving at residential properties and 300-gallon bins at commercial properties.
Town administrator Michele Schmidt explained there are serial numbers attached to each cart and the number is recorded at the town office to correspond with the address of the property it was dropped off at. This will allow carts to be returned to the proper location should they be found elsewhere. Residents are also encouraged to paint their address or name on their bin.
Bagged garbage is to be put in the cart and set out for pick-up by 8 a.m. on collection day. The lid is to be closed and the cart must face the alley and be placed on even ground away from other objects. There must be three to four feet of clearance on either side and two to three feet of space behind the cart for the garbage truck’s arm to grab the bin. Carts are to be returned to private properties by that night. If left outside, Schmidt said they may need to be secured to a structure that can hold them down in strong winds.
Carts only need to be placed out when the resident feels they have enough garbage necessary to be picked up.
The truck will be driven down each alley twice in order to pick up carts on either side.
Schmidt noted street-side pick-up may be necessary where back alley access is not possible. The town may also have to trim tree branches in alleys where the branches will hit the side of the truck.
The carts will hold approximately three bags of garbage, Schmidt said. Anyone who finds they need more than one garbage bin can contact the town office to receive a second at a cost of $65 plus an additional collection cost. Commercial properties with more garbage may require more than one pick-up a week.
Bins that are broken or stolen will be replaced at a cost of $65 which will be charged to the property owner.
Residents inquired about spring and fall clean-up weeks when yard waste is set out for pick-up. Mayor Barry Rudd said this will continue as usual, with tree branches and bagged yard waste set out in back alleys for pick-up.
Councillor Justin McFarlane added the town has discussed putting out bins for compost for people who wish to have them. “That is possibly an option for next year to get another bin, waste would go in there with no bags and go in a separate pit,” he said, noting this would also take some of the load off the landfill. “Why should we be putting grass clippings and leaves and stuff into our landfill? So it is being considered.”
In the winter, residents must ensure there is a flat, level place in the alley for bins to be placed.
For elderly people who do not feel they can haul a bin full of garbage to the back alley, Rudd said those who can’t enlist the assistance of a neighbour could leave it at their front street or possibly permanently leave the bin in their back alley.
“We’ll work with it,” he said.
Garbage pick-up days will remain the same as the town crew gets used to working with the new equipment, but once the work is done quickly and effectively garbage days will change. Rudd said the City of Medicine Hat is able to do 700-900 bins in one day – sometimes up to 1,100 if necessary.
“We’re foreseeing a good cost savings in the manpower part of it,” he stated.
Councillor Ellaine Hawrylak added the new truck will take a lot of strain off town employees.
“People get their backs hurt and get on workers compensation… and have lifetime problems with sore backs,” she stated. “To me, this was the way to go so we don’t have all of that for our staff.”
Town employees will then be freed up to be used in other areas that need attention, Schmidt said.
Rudd pointed out most people don’t know the amount of work town employees have to deal with.
Pick-up with the new garbage truck and bins will begin next week.
Anyone wishing to keep their current garbage stands should remove them from the alley as town employees will be picking up old ones that are still located in back alleys as of Oct. 13 at no charge.
The new garbage truck with lifting arm was purchased for a total of $259,187.50. The purchase of 1,012 64-gallon bins and 40 300-gallon bins brings the total cost for the truck and bins to $339,594.23.
To pay for this, the town borrowed a total of $350,000, which will be paid in three annual installments of $123,424.23 from 2015-17, with a fixed interest rate of 2.832 per cent.
The new equipment replaces the town’s 10-year-old garbage truck, which was in poor condition and required a new motor earlier this year that cost $20,000. The town will be keeping the old garbage truck and using it as needed for work such as spring and fall clean-ups.
Rudd noted there is no extra increase in the town’s water, sewer and garbage fees because of the truck. The increase in the fees which took effect this summer was the result of municipalities being required to cover the entire cost of its services.
“There’s a law that says you mustn’t charge any less than what it costs you to produce your water and to get rid of it,” he explained. “For years and years we didn’t do that. We have to do it now.”
During the public meeting, the town also addressed other concerns brought forward by residents. One of those areas was alleys. The mayor reported there is a plan to have the alleys shaped, beginning this fall with the ones requiring the most attention.
“We want to shape them so the water runs down the centre of the alley to the street how they’re supposed to,” he explained. “Over the years they’ve been graded with a crown on them like a road, and the water runs into people’s backyards and causes problems.”
The town now has a new grader and will be working to put the right slope back on alleys. Harrigan Crescent and Prairie Place are two of the alleys that have been flagged as requiring major attention. Buckhorn Earthmoving has been contracted to fix the alley behind Harrigan Crescent. Another ditch will also be put in nearby to divert water draining from the new integrated healthcare facility and keep it from running down Harrigan Crescent.
A resident inquired if the town will be fixing sidewalks soon. Rudd said the town stopped repairing sidewalks three to four years ago due to the cost. Some areas have been done in asphalt, but the problem is finding someone with asphalt paving equipment small enough to fit on the sidewalks, he explained.
“We did have a person in with a grinder this year to do a demonstration,” Rudd said, regarding concerns of people falling on broken and uneven cement and suing for injury. “That worked well and I think we’re probably going to get him in here next year.”
He noted Maple Creek has an aging infrastructure problem, and in the end it will be the taxpayer who foots the bill for the work.
“We realize that it’s something that we have to budget for and we realize we have to do something about it,” he said.
The town is setting funds aside to deal with aging infrastructure such as the sewer system. It is budgeting for this depreciation, which comes in at about $450,000 a year. Schmidt said the town has budgeted $350,000 this year for that area.
“We’re working towards recapturing all of that,” she stated.
Rudd said the budgeted amount will be higher next year.