Vicky Smallman
Shaping Kitchissippi With You

2006 Ottawa Municipal Election
Ottawa Council • Ward 15

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Kitchissippi Talks Back

Kitchissippi Times, Pg. 5 - Dec. 15th 2005

Back in the summer, Ottawa councillors gave the green light for a new green-bin program. Green bins collect our organic waste and turn it into compost. The program will help prolong the life of our city's landfill by reducing the waste we send to it. It's an important investment — in our environment, our community, and our public health.

We're not the first municipality to try this — in fact, we're behind the times. Some cities, like Halifax, have had green bin collection for years. Many of the necessary elements are in place here — a successful pilot program, a local company that makes organic waste bags, and "the green light" from the province for a waste management company to set up a compost-processing facility in the area.

Will people participate? A lot of Ottawa residents already do what they can. I have a backyard composter, but I can't put nearly the range of materials into it than I could put in a green bin, and I don't have a big enough garden to use the compost I produce. A lot of my Hintonburg neighbours don't have backyards at all, so their options are even more limited. A green-bin program would make it easier for everyone, and expand the range of materials we could compost. It's no different to scrape table scraps into a green bin than into a garbage pail, after all.

Some councillors and columnists are fixated on the "yuck" factor. Life is yucky. People already handle plenty of garbage. We change our kids' diapers. We pick up after our pets (council has already passed a bylaw asking us to bring our pet waste home and flush it down the toilet — what could be more yucky than that?). I think Ottawa residents are not so squeamish as some suggest.

In addition to their role representing their constituents, Ottawa's councillors play an important role as environmental stewards. They need to make decisions with the future of our community in mind -long term decisions, which extend beyond a budget cycle or the next election. This was one of those decisions. Council made the right decision by going ahead with the program. Unfortunately, they failed to take the next logical step.

On November 30 councillors spent several hours debating a plan to reduce garbage pickup once the organic composting program kicks in. Sadly, some councillors refused to support or failed to understand the green-bin program. Even though organic composting has taken off in a host of other communities across Canada, some councilors — including our own Shawn Little — still think Ottawa residents are not smart enough to get the new plan.

Their short-sighted decision increases the amount we'll spend on waste management by almost $11 million, and knocks off a few years in the life of our landfill to boot. That's a lot of waste all right, and not just the kind you put in the bin.

Vicky Smallman
Sherbrooke Ave.

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