By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
In the New Year, residents of Coaldale will be able to have alleyway waste pickup again.
During their regular Nov. 26 meeting, Coaldale town council reviewed a report from administration on the town’s solid waste pick-up.
Council had voted to move the solid waste bin pickup locations to the front of the house for all residents of Coaldale, with the exception of those living in Parkside Close or Parkside Drive during their Sept. 4 meeting.
This decision was made following the results of a survey, where 67 per cent of respondents had rear pick up. But while a majority of respondents did not want their bin pick-up location changed, town administration said that the change was needed to allow for much-needed alley maintenance. Some residents, who raised concerns over possible safety, logistical and liability issues associated with the change, heavily criticized the decision.
Council had previously requested a report on waste bin pickup during their Nov. 13 council meeting.
Addressing council over the report, town CAO Kalen Hastings said that with thanks to staff and assistance of contract help, the town was able to provide a proper baseline for their alleyways.
“Every alley was graded in Coaldale, that was gravel, and the project took 10 working days to complete,” said Hastings. “Fifteen alleys have also been identified in Coaldale, they’ve been flagged for reconstruction.”
Administration recommended that those alleys be rebuilt in 2019, and the cost of doing so has been included in the 2019 budget. A total of $150,000 has been set aside for it, to be split over two construction years.
Those alleyways are located at: 22nd Street – 21a Street and 16a Ave. – 17a Ave.; 25th Street – 24th Street and South of 21a Ave.; 20a Ave – 21st Ave and 22nd Street – 21st Street.; 24th Ave – 23rd Ave and 22nd Street – 20th Street.; 20th Street – 19th Street and 24th Ave. – 23rd Ave.; 19th Street – 18th Street and 24th Ave. – 23rd Ave.; 16th Street – 15th Street and 22nd Ave. – 23rd Ave.; 17th Street – 16th Street and 20th Ave. – 21st Ave., recommend asphalt, engineering required; 16th Street – 15th Street and 20th Ave. – 21st Ave., recommend asphalt, engineering required; 22a Ave. – 24th Ave. and 12th Street – 13th Street; 11th Street – 11th Street and 25th Ave. – 24th Ave.; 19b Ave. – 19a Ave. and 12th Street – 19th Ave.; and 11th Street – 10a Street and 19th Ave. and 19b Ave.
“Although it will take some time to observe the actual outcomes of the rebuilt alleys, it is anticipated that the cost and time required for each alley will decrease significantly on a go-forward basis, now that a proper baseline has been achieved,” said Hastings. “Alternatively, it has been observed that there are some asphalt roads in town that are starting to degrade and fail. It is not suggested that this is explicitly because of the move to front pick-up but simply as a point for consideration within the broader discussion of front-versus-rear.”
“As a general statement, it should be pointed out that regardless of the location where waste collection takes place, it should be noted that heavy trucks place stress on roads, be they gravel roads or paved streets. That is why, for example, there are road bans, with weight restrictions, on certain streets in the town and Lethbridge County, because the substructure of these roadways are not designed to handle the weight of heavy commercial vehicles. Road bans are used as a tool, therefore, to extend or preserve the life expectancy of a capital asset, in this case, roadways.”
Hastings noted that roads risk degrading quicker when heavy vehicles operate in a stop/start-like manner on them, regardless of what they are made of. Alleyways, while they are softer then paved roads, are cheaper to repair, replace and maintain then their asphalt counterparts, especially when those paved roads have compromised surfaces or substructures. And while you could easily add more gravel and run a grader over an alley with soft spots or ruts, the corrective work isn’t as easy on a paved road.
“To be fair, I should also note there are more alleys in town that would suffer consequences to heavy vehicles then there are roadways, it is the minority of cases, but I’m simply providing both sides of the coin, that heavy trucks place stress on roadways, regardless of the type of material that they are constructed.”
Hastings said they received feedback from their waste collecting contractor on how driving is going after the move to front pickup.
“In a nutshell, pickup times is going quicker with front pickup then they were with rear pickup, there’s been fewer delays,” said Hastings.
“To be fair and on the other hand, I would suggest one of the reasons for that is with the front pickup situation, people are putting their bins away. Its not necessarily pickup goes to the front, therefore it’s faster. I think a more accurate conclusion is that with front pickup, people are far more inclined to put their bins away, which in turn makes pickup quicker.”
Hastings noted that if those with alleyway pickup had put them away quicker, that pickup time would likely be similar.
In addition to the survey feedback, the town had received 41 letters and emails on the change, with one letter representing 11 property owners.
“Based on the number of letters and emails we received, people are passionate about where their (waste bin pickup) location takes place, be that rear or front.”
Administration proposed four options: that council maintain status quo and maintain front pickup with the previously approved exceptions; they revert to pre-Oct. 1 pick-up locations without an option to allow for a per-street request for a change in pick-up location, that the level of bin enforcement be either retained, enhanced or decreased and council direct staff to review and bring proposed amendments back regarding the Solid Waste Bylaw, with a focus on practicality from the perspective of what is reasonable to expect of residents and what is reasonable regarding the enforcement of the bylaw, and any amendments take place before changes to the pick-up location are enacted; they revert to rear-pick up, and allow for a 2/3 per-street request to have location either front or alley, in order that those streets that want to remain with front pick-up can communicate this to the Town, that the level of bin enforcement be either retained, enhanced or decreased and council direct staff to review and bring proposed amendments back regarding the Solid Waste Bylaw, with a focus on practicality from the perspective of what is reasonable to expect of residents and what is reasonable regarding the enforcement of the bylaw, and any amendments take place before changes to the pick-up location are enacted; or they table the matter until administration has the chance to reach out to residents to see how they feel front pick up is going, report back to council on their findings.
Coun. Jacen Abrey said it was “too bad” that when they first passed the motion to move to front pickup, their message didn’t get across in a positive way in what the town was doing by moving to front pickup.
“We got beat up quite a bit about it, and we need to make sure our messaging is on a positive, rather then a negative, when we’re doing something like this,” said Abrey. “It was to test the infrastructure, but we also have now noticed that the infrastructure on the front is not able to take that either.”
Noting that they have a budget of $52/meter for alley rehabilitation, Abrey asked what it would cost for the paved streets. Administration did not have that number on hand at the time, although the Town’s director of infrastructure and engineering Andrea Koester said “it would be considerably more”.
Noting that their contractor had said front pickup was quicker, Abrey proposed a motion they go with option three, where they revert to rear-pick up, and allow for a 2/3 per-street request to have location either front or alley, and enhance the enforcement of the bins to ensure residents bring in their bins on pickup days. He also said he would like the change to take place in the New Year, instead of after amending the waste bylaw.
Spencer Croil, director of planning and community development, noted a quick clarification was needed, as not everyone previous had alleyway pickup prior to the changes that took place on Oct. 1, and asked if council would like to make that change in the motion. Abrey agreed with the change.
Coun. Roger Hohm said he agreed with option three, but wondered if it presented an opportunity to tweak the pickup location a bit.
“Our back alleys tend to get beat up a little bit more because the truck has to go back and forth down the alley twice, over the same area, because it drives one direction picking up on one side, then goes to the end of the street, turns around, and dries back down the alley to pickup people’s (bins) on the other side,” said Hohm. “Is it possible to also amend that and say all garbage pickup must be on the same side of the alley?”
“It would certainly speed up the collection process, and it would certainly reduce the impact on our alleys, if we only have the trucks going up and down once.”
Hastings said they would need time to look into the logistics of it before commenting on it.
Council unanimously passed a motion to revert to rear pickup as per the pre-Oct. 1 schedule, but allow for 2/3 per street request to have the location moved to either front or alley pickup, in order for those streets who would want to remain with front pickup to communicate that to the town, further that the level of bin enforcement be enhance and the effective start date be Jan. 2, 2019.
Council passed a motion in a 6-1 split vote to direct administration to bring back a report on single-side pickup. Coun. Henry ‘Butch’ Pauls was the sole vote against.