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Call for mandatory garbage bins rejected

Thunder Bay's city council narrowly opts to wait on changes to its solid waste collection system.
garbage collection
A push to require Thunder Bay residents to use solid garbage bins on collection days narrowly failed at city council. (File photo)

THUNDER BAY – A push to make garbage bins mandatory for Thunder Bay residents was rejected by the narrowest margins by city council.

A motion from Coun. Aldo Ruberto would have seen city staff prepare a report on a policy requiring residents to store garbage in solid containers for collection.

Current city rules allowing garbage to be put out in plastic bags have led to concerns over pests and litter, Ruberto said.

Some councillors questioned the seriousness of the problem Monday, while city staff advised against supporting the motion.

The city is already considering major changes to waste collection that could make the requirement moot within the next few years, said solid waste and recycling manager Jason Sherband.

Food waste makes up an estimated 40 to 45 per cent of the city's waste stream.

The potential for an automated system with standardized bins, using trucks fitted with extendable arms, is being reviewed as the city looks to comply with a provincial requirement to provide household organic waste collection by 2025.

Sherband expects to come before council with more information and potential options for that system in the first quarter of 2022, he said – though there’s no guarantee it would be implemented before 2025.

“In my opinion, it would make sense to hold off on this,” he told councillors. “Let’s see what the feasibility study looks like on the automated collection, let’s see if there’s an appetite from council to move forward.”

Ruberto disagreed, saying there had been talk of a new system for years, while residents faced litter problems today.

Mayor Bill Mauro suggested council supported the intent of Ruberto’s motion, but said it would make sense to wait until a decision had been made on automated collection.

Ruberto’s motion was defeated 7-6, with councillors Aiello, Bentz, Ch’ng, McKinnon, Ruberto, and You voting in favour, and councillors Foulds, Fraser, Giertuga, Hamilton, Johnson, Oliver, and Mayor Mauro voting against.

The city’s current rules allow residents to put out two items a week in “durable plastic/metal garbage cans with handles and secure lids… or 1.5 millimetre thick black or green garbage bags, securely closed.”

The maximum weight per item is 40 pounds. Residents can also purchase tags for a third item for two dollars each, with a limit of one per week.