© Times-Herald photo by Lisa Goudy
At Monday's council meeting at city hall, Coun. Don Mitchell listens as Coun. Dawn Luhning shares her opinions about the environment advisory committee's motion to place curbside recycling as an item for budget discussions.
A curbside recycling motion was defeated.
At Monday’s council meeting, the majority of council voted against the environment advisory committee’s recommendation to place curbside recycling on the budget committee agenda considering a June 1, 2014, start date for the city’s curbside recycling program.
“I would not be in favour of the taxpayer and the City of Moose Jaw getting involved in the business of curbside recycling because I truly believe that there is private business that does it well and should continue to do it well,” said Coun. Dawn Luhning.
“I think with all the other priorities that we have right now, with basic infrastructure needs and that sort of thing, I’m not opposed to a discussion. But I’m opposed to the fact that this snowball is already rolling down the hill.”
According to the environment advisory committee minutes, the committee’s motion was made following discussion about the results of the recycling section of the city’s citizen survey.
Currently residents can either separate recyclables and take them to recycling depots or hire Crown Shred out of Regina for a private curbside-recycling program.
Coun. Don Mitchell said curbside recycling has been an issue for the past five years. Since then, information about costs and options have been filled in, as detailed in the 2012 AECOM recycling report commissioned by the engineering department that was presented to the previous council last September. This report was not included in the environment advisory minutes to council on Monday.
Mitchell said the province announced last spring intentions to provide a provincial recycling program to municipalities with information by August. In August he said the government stated options for the province-wide program would be presented in October instead.
“There’s clearly an interest from citizens in this,” said Mitchell. “We have most of the information and it can be updated for budget considerations as we approach it this fall.”
He added dismissing the curbside recycling motion would delay the possibility of a curbside recycling program for at least six months beyond the suggested time frame of June 2014.
“Referring it to budget discussions to provide the possibility of some allocation should the provincial program be confirmed for 2014 — which is still in question —at least allows us to be in a position to make some commitment,” said Mitchell. “If we just avoid it totally, then we’re not in the game at all for any commitment sometime during 2014 to actually set up and begin to implement a curbside recycling.”
However, Coun. Patrick Boyle, Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick and Mayor Deb Higgins said they didn’t have enough information.
“There’s a long history here. I don’t know it. I haven’t seen a lot of it. I curbside recycle myself and pay with a private service,” said Boyle. “But I haven’t seen enough for me to say, yeah let’s put it on the docket for budget because we haven’t made a decision on anything.”
Mitchell said that information could be provided as background information in budget discussions, but Boyle said he wasn’t prepared to make “ad hoc decisions on if it’s curbside, if it’s city-run (or) if it’s a private service at budget time.” He preferred council make a decision first and then allocate funding in budget discussions.
Luhning added the city cannot afford to be involved in a curbside recycling program.
“We’re in a situation right now where we’re looking to do roads and sidewalks and waterlines and all these other things and … common sense tells us now that we have the numbers that (indictae we) cannot afford it,” she said. “If we’re going to pay for roads and streets and do the things that seem to come out of the strategic planning last week, I don’t know how we’re going to spread ourselves thin and do everything because we just cannot be everyone to everybody.”
But Coun. Brian Swanson said the motion isn’t about having inadequate information or about whether councillors approve of curbside recycling.
“This motion isn’t about curbside recycling. It’s about whether or not one of the advisory committees of council can make a recommendation that an item be placed on the discussion for budget for the coming year,” he said. “I seconded the motion because I’m in favour of the process here. The actual issue ... I believe can be discussed at budget time.”
However, the majority of council opposed the motion and so it failed.
Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.