Now that's leadership...Poco gets a handle on garbage

Post by Mike Klassen in

3 comments

Port Coquitlam City Council have made the tough (and smart) decision to reduce garbage collection
Port Coquitlam city council have made the tough (and smart) decision to reduce garbage collection

In a council meeting that ended at 10pm last night, Port Coquitlam city council approved the adoption of biweekly garbage collection beginning in January 2010. "Poco," one of Metro Vancouver's Tri-Cities, was the first city in Metro Vancouver to adopt automated garbage collection, and the containers scooped by trucks are now in wide use across the region.

There's no doubt that a lot of cranky people in the bedroom community of Port Coquitlam will be waking up to the news that their council has reduced collection to every two weeks, and will be phoning talk shows or sounding off in TV interviews about their "right" to weekly collection, and that "their taxes" should be paying for weekly tips of the bin.

To those folks we say, be thankful that you've got real leadership running your city. Vancouver is being reduced to green posing and symbolic gestures like a city hall community garden thanks to our publicity-loving mayor and council. Whereas Port Coquitlam are challenging their citizens to reduce waste, while saving precious tax dollars at the same time.

Poco (it's tough being nicknamed after a bad 1970s easy listening band) has been allowing fruit and vegetable waste to be added to their garden clippings container since the summer of 2008. And beginning in November, the city will be expanding kitchen waste to include meat and animal products like egg shells. While other cities are struggling to keep up, Poco are expanding their city's commitment to the Metro Vancouver "Zero Waste Challenge".

At our household, we've reduced our garbage to the point where we are most often rolling a half-empty container to the curb, and we will welcome the time when Vancouver finally follow suit. Cutting the garbage collection schedule in half is not even at the trial stage yet in BC's biggest city, while Poco has been testing it out for months.

While we're discussing Port Coquitlam, we should also acknowledge the great work the city has done with their website and online outreach. Unlike the clunky vancouver.ca site, portcoquitlam.ca has an easy to use navigation system, and email newsletter sign-up, Facebook and Twitter links to allow its citizens to stay plugged in to its city. We did note however that the site's search system is not working.

Mayor Greg Moore uses his city's website to full advantage by posting a blog. And while there is a cost to it, it's interesting to see that Poco city council is conducting some of their meetings outside council chambers. The next offsite meeting is taking place at a local high school.

We often focus on what the big cities are doing, when the real innovation sometimes happens in smaller jurisdictions. Today, we tip our hat to the City of Port Coquitlam for leading the way for Metro Vancouver on the matter of waste.

A special shout-out from everyone here at CityCaucus Tower to Poco city councillor Brad West, who was only one of four brave souls last summer to signed up for the CityCaucus.com Car-Free Week Civic Leaders Challenge.

3 Comments

Port Coquitlam not only has the best website of the Tricities, but they are taking the lead on this issue, as well as tackling the homelessness that is still quite evident in and around downtown Poco.

Some very interesting things are happening in Poco, they're a city to keep your eye on.

Dear Mayor / Council,

We have been living in Port Coquitlam for 4 years and became very concerned
when we learned that the City of Port Coquitlam will be making drastic
changes to their garbage pickup. After reading the articles in The NOW & Tri
City Newspaper, I am outraged that a decision of this magnitude would be
made without the consultation of the residents.

The changes affect everyone in their everyday lives and therefore should
be voted upon by the residents. We selected the city council to look out
for our best interest, our community and our property values. That doesn’t
include reducing public services and reducing the quality of life in Port
Coquitlam.

As a family of four right now our garbage is filled to the top each and
every week. Not only that but we find ourselves occasionally borrowing the
extra garbage space of empty nesters, once it hits the streets. We do our
best to recycle and we believe in sustainability, but there are other ways
to achieve this than reducing existing service.

It seems that this decision is being made with the cities bottom line and
not with sound reasoning or looking to other municipalities for their
guidance and experience. We understand that the coming legislation will be
asking for businesses and public sectors to become carbon neutral and be
giving out fines for those who can’t comply or reduce…. Please raise my
taxes to cover this…don’t reduce the services that are being provided or put
any of the residents health at risk.
I would be curious to know how many councilors have young children in
their homes? If so ask them how they would feel with keeping diapers in
their garbage for two weeks.

The City of Port Coquitlam is unique in its configuration with being next to
the Fraser River and with the Coquitlam River running through it. This on
its own can cause rodent and vermin to infest. What do you think will
happen when the garbage sits in the bins “cooking” for two weeks (plus extra
days for holidays) in the summer? We have numerous families of raccoons who
live nearby not to mention the occasional coyote and bear that passes
through.
The City of Port Coquitlam also is in a state of flux with younger families
moving in. It seems to me that Port Coquitlam council is punishing families
and rewarding baby boomers who now have empty nests.

We are hoping that other residents will also write in and hopefully question
the judgment of the present council making these changes without the
consultation of the residents.

Sincerely Yours,
Lino & Julie Dalla Gassa

City of Port Coquitlam has made very drastic changes to their garbage pickup. The residents of Port Coquitlam should have been consulted prior to this bylaw being passed. When Mr. Moore took over the office, he spent thousands of tax payers’ dollars renovating his office. Was it really necessary? Mr. Moore won't listen to anyone. I am planning a protest against the city council. This has gone too far – too many miniscule issues have been dealt with rapidly while the important matters have been ignored. Our taxes are going up while the services to the public have been cut. Mr. Moore and his council need to justify these two things. Where is our money being spent? The garbage pickup should remain as it was – regular pickup once a week. How does this affect the “bear” bylaw? We’ll have twice as much garbage with only one pickup once every 2 weeks. That’s an open invitation to the bears. Weren’t we trying to get away from this? It seems like we’re back at square one.
Regards,
Paul

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