Diversion of waste from our landfill continues to be a priority for city council. In recent weeks, City Council has taken some major steps toward drastically improving waste diversion in our city.
In July, we approved a new Waste Diversion Policy which establishes a target of reducing overall community per-capita waste disposal by 30 per cent in the next five years. Within this broad target are specific targets for waste generated by different sectors of our community.
In simple terms, this policy states what we want to achieve; the next step is determining how to achieve it. In that regard, on Aug. 4, Council approved a strategy that sets out how to meet our policy targets of reducing local business sector waste disposal by 25-per cent waste in the next six years. Sources of business sector waste include the Industrial-Commercial-Institutional (ICI) and Construction & Demolition (C&D) sectors. This strategy will be implemented over the next five years, starting in 2016. Until now, we have had no formal municipal programs to divert ICI and C&D waste from the landfill.
To make meaningful progress on waste reduction in our community, we need to build broad partnerships with all waste-generating sectors of our community. These include the ICI and C&D sectors, which collectively produce the majority of the waste entering our landfill.
There are businesses and organizations in Lethbridge which have willingly had waste diversion programs in place for many years. We thank them for their efforts, and we commend them for their leadership as role models in our community. These businesses typically have internal environmental committees that monitor their waste flows and look for opportunities for conservation and waste reduction. I encourage every business and organization to have an environment committee which focuses on waste diversion.
This ICI/C&D sector waste diversion strategy is intended to help educate and to introduce incentives that lead to broader participation in waste reduction. While all identified sectors continue to be responsible for continuous improvement and waste diversion, the ICI sector is characterized by waste generated from industries, commercial businesses (including restaurants and hotels) and institutions (college, university, schools and seniors housing). This waste will be prioritized for reduction along with waste from the C&D sector.
The implementation schedule begins with a one-year voluntary/education phase in 2016. Financial incentives for recycling will be introduced over the following three years from 2017-2019, including surcharges in 2019 for the disposal of designated recyclable materials (paper, cardboard and organics). The final phase in 2020 will include the introduction of mandatory recycling and bans on disposal of designated materials in the landfill. Commercial tipping fees at the landfill will progressively increase throughout the implementation schedule. The implementation strategy was developed in consultation with business sector stakeholders in 2013.
As Council, we recognize that the City of Lethbridge needs to demonstrate leadership. Our municipality is doing so on many fronts, but there is more we can do.
This fall and winter, our Waste and Recycling staff will initiate working relationships with community stakeholders to foster better understanding of these waste diversion objectives and strategies so they know what to expect over the next five years of implementation.
While we encourage residents to maximize waste diversion, strategies to enhance residential waste diversion will be considered following blue bin and green bin trials in 2016.
Lethbridge residents who commute via Whoop Up Drive will likely be glad to hear that we've seen the last of single-lane traffic during this important bridge rehabilitation project. Although work is to continue into September, at least two lanes will be open in both directions until this project is finished. Whether you can say "zipper merge" with a smile or through gritted teeth, we can all be glad that the hard part is now behind us. We thank everyone for their patience – I know it hasn't been easy. The Whoop-Up Drive bridge is a vital part of our local infrastructure, and I think we can all take pride in the fact that our bridges and roadways are well maintained.
The City of Lethbridge Electric Utility is in the process of replacing all residential electric meters. The initial phase began in 2013 with the replacement of expiring electric meters across the city. This year, the project entered its next phase which involves replacing all remaining meters on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis. This meter replacement project is at about the halfway point and should be complete by the end of 2016.
Every home has an electric meter that records how much electricity is used, and this information is gathered for billing purposes. Under regulations set by Industry Canada (a department of the Government of Canada), every electric meter has a seal with an expiry date. As a result, a large number of our electrical meters are ready for replacement. With the maturing of new metering technology, we are taking advantage of this opportunity to update our entire metering fleet to modern, efficient standards.
Elster Canada of Burlington Ontario is the metering technology supplier the City of Lethbridge has chosen for our upgrade. Elster meters are well proven in the Canadian marketplace, and their products are fully certified by Industry Canada. They also stood out in our review as having the best functionality for this investment.
The new meters will provide the City of Lethbridge Electric Utility with the information required to produce accurate bills – no different than in the past. What is new is the fact that the meters can be read remotely, ensuring that we get a read every month from your home or facility to produce your bill. That means two things: no more estimated values on your electric bill and no more meter readers coming into your yard and disturbing you or your family. Remote meter reading is something that other utility suppliers have already introduced, and our system is evolving this way, as well.
More information on this project, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, is available at: www.lethbridge.ca/electricmeterreplacement.
Mayor Chris Spearman
August 21, 2015