If Cochrane doesn’t go to bi-weekly trash collection (black bin) households can expect to face another 2.3 per cent increase in monthly fees and take the risk of not having anywhere to dispose of its trash.

On Oct. 9, Fabrizio Bertolo, Cochrane’s Waste and Recycling manager, gave a thorough presentation to council on public engagement and education, extensive data examining changes in Cochranites’ waste disposal habits and ways to help accommodate those with special circumstances.

By going to a bi-weekly program it could open the door to a large item pickup pilot program. Bertolo explains it would likely allow for the pickup of two large items, like old mattresses and worn out furniture, from each household once a year.

A year ago, council delayed going to a bi-weekly collection to ready the public for the change. The proposed bylaw change is now back on the table. While some councillors still remain uncertain if this is the right time, the proposed amendments to the waste management bylaw received first reading.

Councillor Morgan Nagel continues to flatly reject the idea and voting in opposition, saying people simply aren’t ready. Councillors Marni Fedeyko and Susan Flowers continued to be concerned over some negative feedback and impact on some Cochrane families but supported first reading.

Concerned that the 120-litre black bins aren’t large enough for some families to go to a bi-weekly service, Fedeyko asked if the town could consider going to a larger bin or make it an option for residents with greater needs.

Bertolo wasn’t convinced it was necessary and would be costly to the town.

There are, however, a series of exemptions proposed to help Cochranites with special disposal needs. For example, residents with two more children under four in diapers can apply for excess waste bags or an extra 120l black cart for six months. Those with medical or health situations can do the same.

For those with more trash, they will be able to secure an extra trash bin for $45 upfront and pay an extra $13 per month.

Data collected by Waste and Recycling indicates that may not be necessary in most cases. In random samplings of black bins, they discovered 51 per cent of items placed in the black bins actually belong in blue recycling bin or green organics bin. If properly sorted, on average the black bin would only be 27 per cent full, instead of the current average of 56 per cent.

Still, public education programs were intensified over the year and Bertolo believes they are having a positive impact.

While his presentation championed the idea of Cochrane becoming the first Canadian municipality to divert 80 per cent of its waste from landfills, the more pressing issue facing the town is having someplace to take its trash. Landfills are stepping closer to banning recyclables and compostables. Cochrane's trash is exported to Calgary.

Should the council approve the bi-weekly collection of trash it could start as early as May 2019. The monthly charge to households would remain at $21.55 in 2019.

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