Composting, tunnels and Mayors…

Composting:

Small government and who-gives-a-crap-about-the-environment (often they go hand in paw) folks in Ottawa are all a-steaming about the roll out of the new curbside composting program which is being launched this week.

The complaints are as varied as there are pebbles on a beach. It costs too much. Composting isn’t effective. Why weren’t we consulted. I already have a compost bin in my backyard, so this is a waste of taxpayer dollars…

  • Costs too much – at about 77 bucks per household, the start-up costs are far less than what is currently paid for recycling – which is far less beneficial, environmentally, than composting. Much of the operating costs of the program will be offset by compost sales. And program costs should fall slightly as time goes on and more see the program’s benefit by diverting from landfill what can be 40-50% of a household’s waste, by weight.
  • Isn’t effective. Not only can a household divert much of the waste they generate from disposal, but there is a bigger impact from an environmental perspective. Less energy is required to transform organic materials into something useful – most of the work is done by micro-organisms. Dry material recycling takes energy to bind paper into bundles, crush cans and to sort our all of the materials. Composting works.
  • Why weren’t we consulted? Um, you were.
  • I already have a bin. This is a bit trickier. Yes, perhaps the City should have gone door to door asking residents if they already had a bin that they used. But the problem with this approach is that people move and the compost bin should stay with the dwelling. If I told the City in advance that I already composted, didn’t receive a bin, then sold my house to someone who didn’t want to backyard compost, then the new resident may be SOL… but still, yeah, the City might have been wise to do some advance scouting.

Bottom line is that composting – including curbside pick-up – is the best way to divert waste from landfill, aside from not generating it in the first place. And when landfill tipping fees increase dramatically over the next decade, Ottawa will look back at this initiative and say “Hey! we did something right! How about that!”

Tunnels:

Big surprise. Some are saying that the proposed tunnel under the Ottawa city core will run into cost overruns and engineering difficulties. And all this way before a single shovel has hit the pavement.

Well, duh! Of course there will be cost overruns and other problems! Can anyone honestly point me to a major engineering project that has NOT run into these glitches? Hell no!

Carry on – even though I’ll be dead and buried before I see this thing running!

Mayors:

Alex Cullen is the first candidate to declare his intention to run for the honour of being the Mayor of Ottawa.

According to the Shitizen, he promises to raise taxes, oppose Lansdowne Live, support a downtown transit tunnel, and stop the flow of sewage into the Ottawa River.

Run on raising taxes? Hell ya! Nice to see some honestly! Much of the infrastructure in this City is quickly deteriorating due to mayorlarry’s unrealistic promises to not raise taxes. Check out some of the ramps off the 174, the potholes downtown and the sad state of many of the City’s facilities

I especially like this quote:

Cullen criticized his expected opponent, O’Brien, as a “weak mayor” and said that O’Brien’s recent vow — to pre-emptively lock out O.C. Transpo workers if faced with the possibility of another winter strike — was “amazing, astonishing, and absolutely repugnant.”

Yeah, and mayorlarry himself  is amazing, astonishing, and absolutely repugnant!

Bring on the ballot boxes!

(1980)

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5 Comments to “Composting, tunnels and Mayors…”

  1. The reason Ottawa and Gatineau will never be amalgamated is because there are comparatively few separatists on the Gatineau side and LOTS of federalists. 24 hours after Gatineau got amalgamated with Ottawa, there’d be a separation referendum called in Quebec, and they separatists would win it.

    The operating budget for the city of Ottawa is: $2.03 billion (link: http://www.ottawa.ca/city_hall/budget/budget_2010/draft_operating_capital_2010.pdf )
    The operating budget for the city of Vancouver is: less than $1 billion (link: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20091020/documents/rr2.pdf )
    The operating budget for the city of Edmonton is: ~650 million (link: http://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/executive_summary_draft_2010_operating_budget.pdf )

    Calgary seems to be on par with Ottawa, in that $2 billion a year range. Nevertheless, of the big cities that are comparable in size to Ottawa, we spend a lot here.

    There’s no way we spend over $1 billion on extra snow clearing compared to Vancouver.

  2. Ken says:

    Sidewalk plowing is an absolute must if we have public transit. Trust me – take the bus every day to work during the winter and try to figure out where to stand. Are you going to stand in the snowbank and try to climb over it, risking falling into the street? Are you going to stand in the street itself?

    User-pay services I’d be okay with. Pools, yes. Library, don’t see why not (membership, perhaps?), maybe even garbage pickup (pay for those tags or whatever that other cities have done).

    And as for Cullen… eeewww. I still think that Chiarelli would be a good choice, even though he’s the least popular. He appeared to do a good job as chair of the RMOC when it was around, and he did a good job leading the city through the ice storm back in ’98.

    I’m with Trashy on the idea on deamalgamation for the rural parts of the city. The central part though should stay as one city. On the flip side, though, I would HATE to include any part of Quebec as part of the governing of Ottawa as a separate district. If we think it’s bad now, I’d hate to see what it’d be be like with some of the separatists that live in the Outaouais (sp??).

  3. trashee says:

    @ Squid – it that true? Does it cost a lot more to run this city when compared to others? Do you have a data source?
    If it’s true, then I would blame a couple of things (keeping in mind that I did a Master’s thesis on local government organization and finance – I sorta know what I’m talking about – not bragging – just sayin’ is all…).
    1) Amalgamation – bad idea from the get go to amalgamate rural and urban into one structure and expect costs to fall. Infrastructure and service delivery costs are just soooo much higher for rural areas than for urban. Plus, you end up with a paralysed and unproductive City hall due to the deep differences between the city and the rural Councillors.
    2) Related to structure again – the NCR is functionally one City and we in the NCR have 6 levels of government to deal with this one functional City: 2 provinces, 2 Cities, the Feds and the NCR. The inefficiency of this structure leads to needless duplication of services, needless delays in infrastructure project approvals and a bis sense of confusion by citizens and businesses alike over who does what.
    My solution: de-amalgamate Ottawa’s rural and urban portions then bring together the urban areas of Gatineau and Ottawa into a separate autonomous National Capital District – modelled after D.C.

  4. zero means zero would work if the city cut services… there are a few that I consider austentatious (like sidewalk plowing), and moved to a user-pay system (pools, for example). I’m sure a detailed analysis of city services could find many millions in cuttable services. Ottawa has to get to the bottom of why it costs so damn much to run this city compared to other cities. Until it does that, we’re doomed.

    The problem with Alex Cullen is that he will raise taxes and spend wantonly on bullshit. He has a long history of total disrespect for the taxpayer (for example, remember when he was censured for tipping the city’s hand in the OC transpo strike 10 or so years ago?) and is absolutely not a good choice for mayor. I don’t feel he’s qualified to be a city councillor’s aide, let alone mayor. I’d rather have Munter, if we must go lefty, at least he appears to be intelligent and seems to have a genuine respect for the people of Ottawa.

    A month of Cullen and we’ll be wishing for a decade of O’Brien.

  5. gordon says:

    Some municipalities use their composting program to generate a little bit of revenue from the sale of compost.

    As for campaigning on raising taxes, that will probably win some votes from people who have (finally) realized that the “zero means zero” philosophy doesn’t work.

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