A composter full of waste complaints


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Proof this city has a green composter full of waste management issues lies not just in last week’s Times-Journal article on our dismal rate of diversion, for deep within a report coming to council on Monday lurks another disturbing figure.

Front and centre at the council meeting will be waste management coordinator Michelle Shannon, who is charged with improving the city’s diversion rate of recyclables and organic waste.

The good new is our diversion rate has inched up to 43% in 2009, from the previous 39.6% reported in the T-J story, but that’s well below the provincial target of 60%.

Immediately following this diversion data is the revelation city staff logged over 400 complaints last year dealing with waste management issues.

These range from missed collections to missing green compostainers and a lack of special collections for things like hazardous wastes.

What Shannon is presenting to council Monday is the framework for an integrated master plan that aims to involve the public to gain input on waste management goals and objectives.

It’s a long-term vision for the collection of waste over the next 20-25 years.

It’s an ambitious undertaking that’s sorely needed for a community that has shuffled from one waste management contract extension to another and is faced with the reality our dumping ground is now controlled by the powers to be down the turnpike in Toronto.

BEHIND THE SCENES

You’d be mistaken if you think all the municipal bantering and posturing is limited to weekly council meetings.

Take this month’s special events committee meeting, chaired by Ald. David Warden, as an example of what transpires on the periphery of public radar.

The St. Thomas Police Service has a valid concern in that they are incurring overtime costs when requested to be present at public events, realizing some of these gatherings generate a profit for the organizers.

Seems the majority of special events committee members are opposed to event organizers having to foot the cost for police presence. Having police officers on site helps discourage troublemakers, they argue.

That may be so, but as Staff Sgt. Chris Herridge rightly notes, police funds are spent on an organization realizing a profit from an event when officers should be patrolling to the benefit of taxpayers.

The matter will come to council Monday where a recommendation will call for the city to put aside a sum of $6,500 this year to cover the cost of police overtime.

As you see, either way, we ultimately will pick up the tab.

On a more picayune matter, Mark Cosens (rumored to be eyeing a seat on council) was chaffed because the Downtown Development Board was never advised Talbot Street would be closed for several hours to accommodate the Olympic Torch relay.

Ald. Warden, who also chaired the city’s Olympic Torch committee, allowed that the closure of Talbot Street was a last-minute decision and communicated to city council on Dec. 14.

So, this all came down a week before the big downtown party?

Herridge had the best observation of the meeting — the actual event was announced many months before the Dec. 22 parade and party at the CASO station, so city merchants, and everyone else involved, should have been clearly aware of the potential for a substantial number of people to congregate downtown.

Wasn’t that the objective of this whole celebration, for heaven’s sake?

The moral of this story — the lack of communication is not limited to Monday council meetings.

IT’S NOW OFFICIAL

When Mayor Cliff Barwick filed his nomination papers Friday morning, it was the equivalent of the starter’s pistol for the 100-metre dash.

Let the jockeying begin in earnest. Ald. Heather Jackson-Chapman, Mark Cosens and all other hopefuls, step up and let the silly season begin.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“Although community festivals and special events are vital to the social and economic well being of the city, there are costs associated to some of these festivals that are being borne indirectly by the taxpayers.”

In a report to be presented Monday, Deputy Chief of Police Darryl Pinnell explains some festival and special event organizers hire and pay for police officers to be present at their events, other for-profit events do not and where alcohol is sold, additional costs of policing should be included in a permit fee.

City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: mccallum@stthomastimesjournal.com.

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