Montreal needs extra garbage pick-up during summer
Montreal needs extra garbage pick-up – There is a problem that appears to be increasing over the past few years during the summer and it has never really been addressed. Perhaps it is time to make a ‘stink’, a really big ‘stink’, against the stink – which prevails in the garbage bins of our fair city and its boroughs.
It’s that time of the year again when people, especially tourists, start to notice the stench – the ‘je ne sais quoi’ odour suddenly attacking their olfactory senses in a way that leaves many gagging, fanning at the air with their hands in hopes of making it go away. It doesn’t.
Tourist season adds even more garbage and last summer I met more than a few visitors who questioned whether dead animals (or worse) were being dumped into the bins. Complaints went out to City Hall and the Boroughs, but like most things, they fell upon deaf ears.
It all started back in 2015 under the Coderre administration, when they announced plans to eliminate twice a week garbage collection in all of its 19 boroughs by 2019 and instead have it collected only once a week. At the same time, they also announced the rolling out of brown bins for the Organic Waste Program, with weekly pick-ups. In theory it should have balanced out the changes to the regular garbage collections, but fast forward to 2018 and it is not working for many people. Once a week pick-up is not enough, especially in the downtown area.
And it gets even stinkier. What they did NOT announce in 2015 and implemented in several boroughs, is that once households are part of the Organic Waste Program – once a week regular garbage collection was reduced to once every TWO weeks. The smell lingers on and it is growing.
It is simple to understand; regular garbage bins are usually filled within the first week and by the second week they are overflowing with all the other smelly trash that is non-compostable like: diapers, rags, pizza boxes, sanitary napkins, cat litter and lord knows what else. Only the raccoons, squirrels, skunks, mice, rats and even crows are celebrating. It is the same problem in areas that went from twice a week to once a week – and this goes for all apartment buildings with over eight units who are not participating in the Organic Waste Program, plus they are required to keep the bins inside the building until pick-up day. The stench from overflowing bins are wafting up into the apartments.
Adding to the mess, I noticed less and less people were using the brown bins during the warmer months. When I lifted the lid of our organic waste bin last summer to add more scraps, it was filled with maggots – and not just a few. The underside of the lid was coated with them and inside it was maggot-armageddon. The compostable liner bags, of which the city suggested I buy and use, had rotted through – and it stank to the point of making me dizzy.
I was told to use the smaller household bin they also distributed to put my waste in until pick-up day. But that was not a viable option for us because the bin needed to remain in our home – and it smelled repugnant when I had to open it, permeating our entire place. I tried leaving it on our back balcony but raccoons managed to throw it down the stairs and pop it open. I tried all the tricks they recommended and none of them worked. Maggots multiply very quickly. And they are gross.
With the exception of homeowners, most people don’t have places like balconies or garages to store their bins until pick-up day. The solution for most was to simply stop participating in the program and throw the waste into regular bins – in sealed plastic bags. It defeats the purpose of the program on all fronts.
Last autumn during the election campaign I happened to meet Mayor Alan DeSousa of Ville Saint-Laurent, who was on the ground meeting his constituents. I took the opportunity to discuss the problem with him and offered insight into why the plan might not be working. I put forward the idea of the city going back to once a week pick-up for the summer. He acted surprised, insisting the program was a success, so I suggested he take a drive around his borough and see for himself what was going on – and he promised to look into it. Well, it’s been over six months since and not a word from him – nothing in the borough agenda or in their news releases, nor were there any changes indicated on the nifty 2018 Collection Calendar they sent out.
Montreal’s waste management program should really be looked at again by the new administration, under Mayor Valérie Plante – but will someone will listen? Perhaps Montrealers need to make some noise about it, because something certainly stinks. In the meantime, how about adding the extra garbage pick-ups this season, before the ‘nose-pinch and gag’ reflex kicks in – especially in the downtown area?