By Marianne Curtis
As of July 1, residents in the RM of Ste. Anne no longer have access to curb side recycling thanks to a decision made by the municipal council.
The RM of Ste. Anne council has decided that instead of looking into options to expand or improve their municipal recycling program, they cancelled it completely, leaving residents to either not recycle or haul materials to drop off sites on their own.
Reeve Art Bergmann says that it seems “harsh” but the municipality is not prepared to pay for a service they had previously received for free.
Until seven months ago, Blue Sky Recycling, has picked up materials and not charged the municipality. The non-profit organization was run by Dawson Trail Opportunities using subsidies from the government because it was providing employment opportunities for handicapped individuals. However, when the province stepped in and shut down Dawson Trail Opportunities, the recycling service was also affected.
Real Sarrison at R&R Pickup holds the garbage pickup contract for Paradise Village. He says that he picks up garbage on a per user basis and as a courtesy, he started picking up the
recycling that people also put out.
“As of November, the Dawson Trail Opportunities was unable to pick up recycling anymore, so we started picking it up – but we could not do it for free,” Sarrison explained. “We asked for $2 per household and we picked it up as the same time as we were picking up their garbage.”
Initially, he says the municipality dragged their feet because they did not know how they would charge residents then he was sent a letter from the municipality saying they should not have to pay for recycling when they used to get it for free. After doing his homework, he came back with a fee of $25 per household that could have been added to resident’s property taxes.
Laurie Evans, deputy reeve for the RM of Ste. Anne confirmed that Sarrison had been taking up the slack but the municipality did not find it feasible to keep it going.
“There is a significant number of people that do not have garbage pickup contracts so to do a municipal wide service if they are not already getting pickup was not feasible,” explained Evans. “We supported him at $1,000 per month but it was not expanding the service, it was keeping the service that was already there.”
Evans is disappointed to see the program come to a close.
“I would like to see a program developed but I do not see how it is going to float on a municipal wide basis – the money we get from the province is minimal and it would cost too much to get to every individual home.”
Putting up bins or setting up drop off sites was also looked at, but according to Evans, “there is no interest” that he is aware of to put up bins or provide pickup service.
“I think residents understand the dilemma that we are in, but we don’t see any alternative at this time,” Evans concluded.
The Manitoba Product Stewardship Program pays municipalities a fixed funding figure for recyclables collected within their boundaries. Funding is provided based on how much recycling has been collected. Each year, the RM of Ste. Anne has fallen at the bottom of the list when it came to how much recycling comes in. On the last municipal report card issued in 2005, 22,820 tonnes a year was collected. Sarrison claims that since he took over the program in November that number has increased to up to 12 metric tons a month which will now be hauled to the Steinbach Landfill unless another solution is found.
“We need over fifty percent of the residents in the RM of Ste. Anne to come forward if they want to maintain or improve recycling in the municipality, otherwise there is not much we can do,” concluded Sarrison.