Passing waste reduction savings on to New Westminster taxpayers

We were duly impressed by recent waste reduction news out of Port Coquitlam that John Ashdown drew our attention to.

It seems that a year after introducing “two leading-edge waste-reduction programs,” Port Coquitlam residents are now sending 26% less garbage to the landfill and they’ve saved $165,000 in the process.

Port Coquitlam’s new pickup schedule has also saved “9,600 litres of diesel fuel” and prevented “about 98 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases” from being emitted into the atmosphere.

Even better, Port Coquitlam residents are now looking forward to another zero increase in garbage rates for 2011.

Okay, pinch me. Where can the envious masses here in the Royal City sign up for that waste reduction program instead of the one where we get dinged with yet another increase in our solid waste fees this year?

Yes, it’s true that New Westminster’s waste output has been reduced by 48% (from 367 tonnes to just 188 tonnes) owing to the city’s new garbage scheme — as reported in the December 22, 2010 Newsleader. That part’s not so bad and we are impressed with the reduction of waste.

But what do the overtaxed citizens of New West get for all the hours they’re spending sorting their garbage? Surely we should be seeing some sort of savings or benefits being passed on to New Westminster taxpayers similar to the ones seen in nearby Port Coquitlam?

Alas, no… What we’re apparently getting is an $11 increase in our solid waste fees this year.

Moreover, according to a December 8, 2010 article in the Record, the chair of the city’s environmental committee (Councillor Cote) says the city’s new ‘clean green’ waste pick up service (intended to keep yard waste from landfills), and the addition of a new vehicle to the city’s fleet, have increased emissions by 57 tons.

(NOTE: see above where it states that Port Coquitlam’s new pickup schedule saved “9,600 litres of diesel fuel” and prevented “about 98 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases” from being emitted into the atmosphere.)

So: No apparent decrease in fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, and no apparent decrease in labour costs in New Westminster! What gives?

Again, we are impressed with the reduction of waste in New Westminster, but we would also like to see some savings passed on to the city’s taxpayers.

About half of Port Coquitlam’s reported $165,000 in savings in 2010 reportedly came from reduced labour, equipment and fuel costs, while $82,000 came from averted landfill disposal fees.

Considering Port Coquitlam’s inspiring results, and the savings they’ve passed on to taxpayers, we’re obviously doing something wrong here in New Westminster.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore explains his city’s impressive results as follows: “We were able to achieve these successes because our residents got on board with the programs…. We’re working together to save money and at the same time provide a positive environmental impact.”

Well, New Westminster residents certainly appear to be on board with waste reduction.

(NOTE: See above where it states “New Westminster’s waste output has been reduced by 48% (from 367 tonnes to just 188 tonnes) because of the new garbage scheme….”)

So now, in addition to a reduction in waste, what New Westminster taxpayers want to see are some money savings and the positive environmental impact.

Port Coquitlam, and their Mayor Greg Moore, seem to have to figured out how to make waste reduction work and pass savings on to taxpayers. Why can’t New Westminster?

16 thoughts on “Passing waste reduction savings on to New Westminster taxpayers

  1. The truth be known, the new refuge vehicles need to drive twice as much to do the same job. Our recycling and garbage trucks pick up one side of the street and return to pick up the opposite side of the street later in the day. Simple math will tell you that equates to 2x the emissions.

  2. Hopefully you noticed where Port Coquitlam’s real savings came from: fortnight collection of garbage. It isn’t magic, it is cutting their service in half!

    If you are arguing that New Westminster should move to an every-second-week pickup schedule like PoCo, then just say so. New Westminster has talked about the idea, and it might be part of the longer-term planning, now that they have green organic waste pickup. But they will need data to prove it will work.

    Instead of just complaining about it. NWEP is doing something about it. We are starting a volunteer garbage tracking program. If you really want to save money on your trash, use the NWEP’s easy tracking form, collect data on how often you go to the curb, and in the fall we can go to Council and argue that we don’t need pickup every week, and we have the numbers to prove it, and we want to start saving money like our neighbours in PoCo!

    If the Members of VOICE really care about cutting costs at City Hall, they can surely get behind this.

  3. Whoa, P&J, quite the edge to your comments.
    I don’t see any complaining in the posting, what I see is the identification of an issue.
    The posting is very complimentary of the reduction in waste.
    Congratulations on your initiative.
    I hope all residents can support it, including Voice members.
    Every person and organization play different rolls in the community. Your group performs a certain roll. Good for you, and the community.
    Voice sees it’s roll as holding civic government’s feet to the fire. That is a very much needed thing in New Westminster.

  4. P&J (would that be Patrick & and Bro Johnston.
    Of course the “Fortnight” collection is a factor. A factor that you and I, and the city relize, or they would not have introduced the service.
    Your NWEP survey is typical of a make work project. We all know there are plenty of those around.

    I have already completed my survey with the following results:
    My Green Waste bin has never been used as compostable waste ends up in my composters. My 1/4 bin of solid waste headed out to the land fill/ incinerator this morning. End of survey. A 48% decrease needs no such survey. Not rocket science.
    The point in this article is, it would be a historical moment when the overtaxed citizens receive any benefit from more efficient services.
    I agree with NWEP mandates in regard to the environment,however, between you and Mathew Laird’s defensive recent political comments I feel they are best left to others…. unless your real mandate is to enter politics…. right Matt?
    Keep up the good work and lets hope more people will use the Bike routes you fought for and we
    paid for and the public follow your guidelines for worm composting. However, depriving the public access to a container in which to drink water from, city or Nestles, is nothing more than political interference and puts NWEP in the same class as CUPE. I used to cup my hands to get a drink but it’s dificult when turning a spring loaded low pressure fountain at NWSS. They have made the right decision to hold off until alternate decent water fountains are available. Nestles employs 40 residents in Hope, a struggling community due to loss of wood related industries. If NWEP’s madate has become to destroy free enterprise employment, and take away choice of product than you have lost my support.
    PS By the way can you clarify why CUPE wants to ban bottled water(national campaign) and not all bottles. Is this a conspiracy to control like they do with our majority city council? You are in the know on many things, please tell me. I have searched the net for an answer, to no avail.

  5. Sorry, but I read quite a bit of complaining in the original post:
    “…we get dinged with yet another increase in our solid waste fees.”
    “…overtaxed citizens of New West…”
    “…hours [spent] sorting their garbage…”
    “No apparent decrease in fuel consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, and no apparent decrease in labour costs in New Westminster! What gives?”
    “we’re obviously doing something wrong here in New Westminster.”

    If my comments seem to have an “edge” it is from my impression that Voice would rather complain than offer solutions. In this case, you somehow gave kudos to another City, complained about New West, and yet apparently failed to check PoCo’s website to see what the difference actually was between the two programs. Or even worse: failed to mention the pivotal difference because it wasn’t going to provide political points.

    Holding feet to fires is a valid role, but I don’t see that here. The phrase usually means reminding people of specific promises or commitment they have made, not random criticism for the sake of criticism

  6. Yes Chris, I think P@J spends too much time with Matthew Laird. These guys forget who has the power to make things happen. Remember the NWEP’s efforts on the civic center.
    All Voice can do is enlighten the residents of New Westminster and catch the attention of city hall. But Voice is not the only group questioning the decisions of this current slate of elected officials – perhaps 9 years is enough already.
    Business owners, shop keepers, landlords and plain old residents are now seeing that this path they are taking us on may not be all they say it is. The costs are buried deep in the numbers of the current budget document with lots of it being spent “in camera” behind closed doors at city hall.
    Why doesn’t NWEP start asking the tough questions instead of just complaining or agreeing with the proposals on the table and offering there own brand of solutions without seeking others opinion. How about coming up with options besides bike and pedestrian paths…..It’s not all about bikes boys! There are people that have to use a car and delivery trucks that bring us our products. New Westminster is not Vancouver!
    At least we can sort our garbage now but in the end if there is no real incentive, will people keep doing this. Maybe they should start licensing bikes so you can help pay for all the special routes being built for your exclusive use. Now that’s socialism – share the load!
    Keep up the fire Voice there are thousands of resident counting on your group.

  7. To P@J: I guess, complaining is in the eye of the beholder. We see the potential and the positive value in raising important issues for open discussion.

    I know many of New Westminster’s citizens, especially after comparing us to other nearby municipalities, would say that we are overtaxed?
    New Westminster’s citizens are also getting dinged with another hike in solid waste fees. Citizens are, rightly so, unhappy about it. In our democratic system citizens have the right to raise these legitimate questions.

    New Westminster’s citizens are working hard and doing their part to make waste reduction work. Many believe that they have a right to expect that their elected officials never cease to look for ways to do things better and more efficiently and provide good value for public money spent.

    These are all facts, they are not complaints. Raising important issues for discussion, especially ones that might not otherwise get full expression, and giving voice to the expectations and concerns of many New Westminster citizens is part of the public process. You may see this as a negative, but we see it as a positive and an important public duty that we take very seriously.

  8. Sorry P@J, but I just don’t see the complaining you seem to see in the original post. What I see is a good measure of sly wit and an interesting presentation of an otherwise dry issue. Remember, not everyone lives and breathes waste reduction and garbage like you seem to.

    I also see two direct references to POCO’s new garbage pickup schedule in the original post that you claim are not there. The fact that they are there tends to scuttle your claim that a supposedly “pivotal” point was omitted “because it wasn’t going to provide political points”.

    So you’ve got me wondering: who’s really looking to score political points here, P@J?

  9. P@J, couple your comments along with the recent letter to the editor by Matthew Laird, and you guys look like you are starting to use the antics that Laird resorted to in his Recall B.C. caper. One would have thought that Matthew would have clued in after the two Mike Smyth columns about him in the Province newspaper. It looks like you guys are the ones being political.

  10. one of the reasons the city wanted these new garbage trucks was because the workers were getting older and now they can just push buttons and the garbage gets lifted for them. I am getting older also and now I have to lift my garbage out to the front street instead of leaving it in back of my house for pickup. Why not just hire younger workers.

  11. Great comments! It Looks like the tides are a changing in New West. Not so many people happy to go with the flow of decades of lopsided administration. I moved to New West from Burnaby 30 years ago. After being here a few months I leaned over the fence and asked my neighbour who the hell was running this city. He said “don’t bother fighting the system, I had no luck” Out of that came apathy. A plague that now effects the majority of citizens that don’t even bother to vote. New West its now time for change.

  12. In order:
    ABC: The NWEP is a strictly non-partisan group. They do not endorse any party, slate, or candidate. That said, we often go to council or the community at large and try to engage them, sometimes the result is positive (120L trash bins, the 8th Street crosswalk, Community gardens, etc.) sometimes less so (the future of 8th street as a pedestrian space, bottled water).
    If you think we are all about bikes, you clearly have not been following the organization.

    Neil: your points, as always, are well taken.

    Anne: respectfully, there is no mention in the original post of why PoCo’s costs and emissions went down, other than two vague references to a “new schedule”. If there was a single mention in that original post to reducing garbage service to every second week, the message of that post would significantly change, wouldn’t it?

    John: Glad to hear you have put in 30 years in a City where the administration has been so consistently terrible. I guess that 30 years of bad administration is why it is such a great place to live.

  13. Where was the NWEP when the city brought out all the bottle water out at the recent May Day Reception? Do as I say not as my friends do at city hall.

  14. We weren’t invited!

    If someone (even Voice?) were to challenge the City to come up with a better solution for large events than having bottled water, that is something the NWEP could easily get behind. I suggest you bring that to the Next NWEP meeting in April and I will make sure it gets on the agenda.

  15. Personally, I don’t see the need for providing bottled water at an event like this. There are drinking fountains all over city hall and realistically we are not living in a desert environment where if we are not constantly hydrated we will face imminent death.
    I would agree that water is a better choice than many of the sugary corn syrup options often provided though. I guess this is likely what happened though. Likely the City provided a few beverage options and bottled water was one of them. I was not at City Hall for Monday’s event though so can’t say for sure.
    If we really need to be constantly drinking water though my choice is my stainless steel water bottle that I can fill at home with tap water.

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