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Ritchot Moves to Cart-Based Garbage and Recycling Services

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Recycling Carts Crop
A common type of recycling cart. Evan Braun

The RM of Ritchot begins their new four-year garbage and recycling contract with GFL Environmental on January 4, 2021. The urban areas of St. Adolphe, Ste. Agathe, Île-des-Chênes, and Grande Pointe are transitioning away from manual pickup and moving to automated pickup, which requires the use of approved garbage and recycling carts as provided by GFL. For those who live in rural areas, there will be no change.

Garbage carts will be delivered to residents in the new year as they become available. Until the carts are delivered, residents are asked to continue to use garbage bags as they have been doing.

A map of the new urban areas and a letter announcing the changes was issued to residents in the last week of December.

While some cart-based services have been used before, notably this model is new for residents of Grande Pointe. Where once their properties were considered rural, many are now considered urban.

The change has some residents in the Grande Pointe area concerned over the size of the new carts, as well as the timing of the announcement.

Robert Wiens says that the fall clean-up of his yard creates a fair amount of waste. “We have a family of four and recycle a lot,” he says. “My wife is also concerned that now we’re going to be throwing out recycling, cause there’s no room in the bins. But I have yet to see the size of them. They better be bigger bins than the city. Properties are way bigger out here. That’s my only issue. And some knowledge beforehand would’ve been nice instead of a letter in the mail after it’s done.”

Debbie Kolaski, who also lives in Grande Pointe, says the new garbage and recycling program doesn’t suit the needs of rural property owners.

“Those of us with acreage have more leaves and grass to dispose of,” Kolaski says. “Those of us in rural areas should request we be left that way… and not be considered urban, because we aren’t. Sending a notice to some residents during Christmas, barely a week before the changes take effect, is suspect. We’d like to know why a change was made. It would be interesting to see the cost difference between the new and current contract.”

According to the municipality, the timing of the decision was merely due to the previous garbage and recycling contract coming to an end on December 31. Mitch Duval, Ritchot’s chief administrative officer, says that the new contract will save money for the RM.

Duval clarifies that discussion of the matter began months ago, with a request for proposal going out in October. The final decision was made at a public council meeting in December.

“The municipality wanted to see pricing and options from other providers, including current, to see what was feasible,” says Duval. “The elected councillor for each ward and the mayor went through the contract and as a whole made a decision for the betterment of the whole municipality.”

Duval says the old program cost $173 in 2020 for a single-family household, and the new program’s costs will be lower.

“I don’t quite have those numbers crunched yet, but it will be lower than the $173,” says Duval. “A new special service bylaw, to be approved by the municipal board, will be required and there will be a transition period for the new service provider as they will be familiarizing themselves with the municipality and the routes. Carts are expected for delivery within the next six weeks, so there’ll be a transition for that as well.”

Richard McKenzie lives in St. Adolphe and learned about the new rules on December 26, only after reading about the issue on a community Facebook page. He, too, has concerns about large properties with yard waste, and wonders if the scope of the work contracted to GFL might be a bit smaller than what was offered under the previous collection company.

McKenzie notes that, under the new provider, only household waste and recycling will be accepted. Renovation garbage or anything that won’t fit into the provided carts will not be picked up.

“Yard waste is not picked up separately and is going to fill the garbage bins with our large rural yards,” McKenzie says. “If that was an option, that would alleviate a large portion of the problem with the single garbage bin concern.”

He is also concerned about limits to the amount that a household can recycle. He argues that with online shopping being more popular now, and with more people working from home, there will be more packaging to get rid of.

“Such deliveries double the packaging materials in the community that require recycling,” says McKenzie. “Add that to the regular weekly recyclables and I’ll bet 70 percent of recycling bins are overflowing. What is one to do with larger recycling items, like boxes from IKEA, or a new appliance box that does not fit in the recycle bin? The current contractor was great at picking up these items, which encouraged proper recycling. I look weekly at the recycle bins overflowing and can’t help but ask, why are we bringing in these limits?”

Regarding yard waste and compost, Duval admits that the RM has never had a true compost program and residents had been putting their yard waste and compost at the curb to be brought to the landfill.

Duval indicates that the RM is open to considering a solution to composting.

“The municipality will investigate with the new provider to see what options we have and what we can bring to our residents,” says Duval.

Laura Wiens lives on a half-acre property in Île-des-Chênes. She is not concerned about the size of the new carts or their ability to handle the waste created by her family of four.

“There is no way we could bag everything. We currently have a compost heap in our yard for leaves and have been using them to fill in low spot on the yard and for compost in our garden to improve the soil. We have a good trailer load of leaves each spring,” says Wiens. “If the RM had a composting facility, I would consider using it in the future since we won’t always need all of our leaves. Grass, we simply mulch and leave or collect to use as mulch in our garden.”

Wiens says she and her husband have previously held lawn care and mowing contracts with another RM and understand what contractors have to go through to secure a contract with a municipality.

“I understand the process of tendering and signing service contracts,” says Wiens. “I trust the RM to look at the bids and choose options that make sense. I don’t know if the old company bid or what both bids looked like, so without that information I don’t think I can offer a solid opinion. I personally am very excited to have a bin for garbage and feel it is more than enough for our household of four.”

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