An initiative to help Turner Valley residents with their spring cleaning received an overflowing response last weekend.
Five 30-yard bins and seven 12-yard bins were placed in neighbourhoods throughout town on May 15 by High River's Contain-A-Way Services to be utilitized by the public, and within days many were overflowing.
“We were seeing mattresses, patio swings, lawn chairs, barbecues, lawn ornaments and old lumber,” said Turner Valley operations and facilities manager Craig Beaton. “Sadly, there were a lot of bicycles in there. It’s a shame we’re not seeing recycling with some of those items. I know places that would take some of these things are closed.”
The Town is providing the service from May 15 to 29, with the expectation that the bins will be emptied twice a week.
With the Foothills Regional Landfill & Resource Recovery Centre closed on May 17 and 18, Beaton said some bins were emptied on May 16 but couldn’t be emptied again until after the Victoria Day weekend. The bins were emptied May 19 and 20 and he expects another run will be made at the end of this week.
“We are monitoring them and asking that people be patient and not overfill the bins,” he said. “We did anticipate that the first weekend would be the busiest with the expectation that once the first weekend was over the program would settle down and be more manageable.”
Beaton said the Town allocated $15,000 from its solid waste budget to the initiative.
“The quote was based on providing the bins for two weeks and hauling twice per week,” he said. “We haven’t been approved for additional funds to carry this program deeper than the allotted budget. If we have to cut the program a little early we will, but we will do our best to continue it for the full intended two-week period.”
Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane is waiting for the initial popularity of the program to be over before disposing of his larger household waste items.
He, too, noticed the overloaded bins last weekend.
“There was a lot of furniture and household items like vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, patio furniture, mattresses, everything you could think to throw out was thrown out,” he said. “With people at home there’s a major spring cleaning going on. Things that have been eye sores around the house have become targets for people to clean up. People had time on their hands and we’ve given them an opportunity to remove it.”
Crane said council is enthusiastic about the community’s response to the program.
“It goes towards beautification of the community in general,” he said. “It’s a win-win all around.”
He doesn’t expect last weekend’s issue of overflowing bins to become a problem again.
“We made it two weeks for a reason, so people had time to get their things out,” he said. “There was just a couple of learning curves on the first go around. I think it’s going to be well received and I hope to see it continue in years to come.”
Sign boards have been placed at each bin informing the public which items are acceptable and which aren’t.
Crane said some people have not been complying with the postings.
“I’m concerned about people dumping Freon and propane tanks in there,” he said. “When you have heavy equipment and compressed gases, there is a hazard there.”
Beaton said many of the materials listed are considered contaminants, and therefore must be disposed of in special bins at the landfill.
“I would ask residents to please obey the acceptable and non-acceptable items that are posted at each dump location,” he said. “The repercussions of disposing unacceptable items has additional fees and town staff have to climb into the bins and pull those materials out. That kind of behaviour will result in an unsuccessful program in that perhaps it would deter us from running it again in the future.”
In addition to the garbage disposal bins, the initiative also includes a community clean-up component that encourages residents to collect litter at green spaces in their neighbourhoods and leave the garbage bags on the side of the trail, road or park to be collected by public works staff.
This replaces the Project Green Day community clean-up that takes place in Turner Valley and Black Diamond each May. The event was cancelled due to physical distancing regulations in light of COVID-19.