Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Organic material transfer station restrictions questioned

Jonathan Skrimshire

Grass clippings and leaves only. No, it's not an April Fools joke.

Pincher Creek's new organic material transfer station is now open for the season. Unfortunately, restricting intake to leaves and grass means the facility is of very limited utility.

Jonathan Skrimshire photo

Most people in town have no need for a glorified leaf bin. The advent of mulching mowers has eliminated the need to bag and dispose of grass clippings. With the possible exception of spring dethatching, which can generate prodigious amounts of material, dealing with lawn waste is largely a non-issue. Similarly, there are now inexpensive tools that will vacuum up and shred leaves, vastly reducing their volume, allowing easy disposal in a back-yard compost heap.

What homeowners actually need is a convenient place to dispose of tree branches and other pruning waste that can't reasonably be composted on their own property. Before it was closed to accommodate the construction of the new animal shelter, the town had a small fenced composting yard that accepted such material. It wasn't elegant, but it met everyone's needs and was heavily used for much of the year. It has now been replaced, at considerable cost, with a vehicle ramp and a huge green bin that accepts only leaves and grass. As a homeowner and a taxpayer, I don't consider this an improvement. Quite the opposite.

As a matter of general policy, I think the town should take whatever reasonable, low-cost steps it can to encourage and facilitate owners maintaining their properties. Presentable, well-tended yards and foliage make the town a more pleasant and desirable environment for everyone. Insofar as the composting yard enabled such upkeep, it was an asset to the community.

I'm not interested in rehashing the decisions that resulted in the closure of the composting yard and the construction of the new transfer station. However, I definitely think Council should revisit this issue. I don't feel that the new facility, with its current restrictions, really addresses the community's needs. And I am certainly not alone in that opinion.

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