Dear Mr. Behan:
Last week’s editorial, “Trash ‘bag tag’ plan,” is not only unjustifiably negative, but also very poorly thought out.
Our family produces, on average, one “lowly” bag of garbage each week, so in response to your invitation, our “hands are up.” There are three times a year when we exceed our weekly average—Christmas, and spring and fall clean-up.
Designing a garbage collection system that takes into account the needs of residents—while reducing the excessive amount of waste going into the landfill site—is not impossible.
Instead of brow-beating our town councillors in their difficult search for solutions, we should be encouraging them by offering helpful suggestions. Not only is your “Can you spell environmental disaster” right over the top, but also your dismissal of $77,666 as insignificant insulting to taxpayers.
I think user fees are good, provided I have the ability to control use of the particular service or resource and can enjoy a direct benefit, such as lower cost.
The argument that garbage collection is an essential service, and therefore should not be subject to user fees, is fatally flawed. We have user fees right now for many essential services, including sewage and water treatment.
The “bag tag” idea has merit, but is fraught with operational problems such as what is an acceptable size bag? I would like to see council explore the idea of picking up only “official” garbage bags.
Since we currently purchase garbage bags, the issues are quickly reduced to a few major considerations, such as cost and availability. The town could order in bulk (500,000?), ensuring competitive cost, good quality, a low cost of imprinting a suitable message on each bag, and convenient packaging (say quantities of 10, 15, and 100).
“Official” bags could be available at any store that wanted to stock them. The town has the option of acting as the wholesale distributor or delegating that function to a third party—while maintaining control over the retail price.
I hope they find the idea worth pursuing.
Please consider focusing your editorial pen upon the real issue, which I believe is the budget process.
The current and previous councils are, and have been, locked into the role of identifying problems, relying primarily upon administration to develop solutions and then proposing them to residents.
The results, such as the gutting of the “Blue Box” program last January, have been terrible.
The time to consult citizens is during the “finding the best solution stage.” This is clearly reflected in the comments of firefighter Frank Sheppard. Council must ask the tough questions, such as why does it cost more than $500,000 a year more to operate our fire department compared to Dryden?
Whatever the answer, I am absolutely certain the members of the local department would prefer to be involved at the beginning rather than discover during a presentation at a budget meeting that a review is going on.
I encourage you, Mayor Onichuk, and town councillors to champion a new meaningful system of creating the town’s budget, starting with revamping garbage collection and extending into water meters, police and fire services, snow plowing, parking meters, and a host of other issues.
Fort Frances, Ont.