Sparks fly over Winnipeg compost plan at city committee meeting

A Winnipeg city committee meeting took on a tough tone on Thursday as councillors discussed a proposed plan for curbside organic waste pickup along with a motion to scrap the plan altogether.

2 councillors proposal to halt curbside organic waste collection proposal scrapped

Councillors on the city's water and waste, riverbank management and environment committee meet at Winnipeg city hall on Thursday. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

A Winnipeg city committee meeting took on a tough tone on Thursday as councillors discussed a proposed plan for curbside organic waste pickup along with a motion to scrap the plan altogether.

Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie had some heavy words for delegates at the meeting of the city's standing policy committee on water and waste, riverbank management and the environment.

One delegate, environmental advocate Curt Belton, found himself defending allegations from Eadie that he didn't care about people who couldn't afford potential fees of up to $100 for organic waste pickup.

"If you listened carefully to what I said, Mr. Eadie, you would hear that I said we need to figure something out, whether that means that it is some sort of differentiated system, whether or not there is some sort of tax rebate for some folks," Belton told Eadie.

"I did acknowledge that it was a good thing that you were thinking of the burden that would be placed on some folks. You're definitely putting words in my mouth."

Belton had earlier told the committee that as a homeowner, he believes in the need for an organic waste residential pickup program and he would be willing to pay a little bit more to help subsidize the program for others that might be on fixed incomes.

Eadie and Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt put forward a motion to "immediately suspend the implementation plan for curbside [kitchen waste] collection" and cancel plans for public consultations on the plan.

The motion also calls on the city to develop a new organic diversion program "that would be community based and work with existing not-for-profit groups and organizations" as well as an organic waste diversion program for commercial, industrial and institutional areas.

As well, the councillors want a "comprehensive review" of the city's existing autobin garbage and recycling collection program, with a report due back by the end of the year.

"The said review shall include a full analysis of the existing program, failures to meet promised levels of service, as well as comprehensive recommendations and steps required, that are fully costed, to improve the existing program/service," the motion states in part.

In the end, the committee voted three to one to consult the public and take a closer look at collecting organic waste curbside after councillor Jenny Gerbasi put forward a motion.  Gerbasi's amendment includes consulting the public service sector, meeting with the city's environmental groups and reporting back to the committee in 120 days.

Councillor Brian Mayes added another amendment to include an effort to bring more schools on board with composting programs.  That amendment was passed unanimously with all four councillors voting in favour of it. 

With files from the CBC's Brett Purdy


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