Nova Scotia

HRM halts garbage changes

Halifax regional councillors had been preparing for a long night of debate about garbage, but a public hearing was cancelled at the last minute Tuesday.

Public hearing cancelled

Halifax regional councillors had been preparing for a long night of debate about garbage, but a public hearing was cancelled at the last minute Tuesday.

Coun. Reg Rankin asked that the hearing be cancelled, and the motion was passed by a vote of 13-9.

Councillors said they were inundated with emails from homeowners and business owners who were overwhelmingly against the switch to clear bags.

Councillors said there should be more education so people can understand why they want to make the change.

About 100 people had signed up to speak at the public hearing, which is now cancelled.

There will be no change to the garbage rules until at least the end of 2012. Council told staff to get more information, and to do more public education.

If the changes had been approved, residents would be allowed only four bags of garbage instead of six every two weeks. Three of those bags would have to be clear.

Councillors said they expected to hear from concerned homeowners, apartment building owners and business people.

Some businesses said they can't control what customers put in public bins and don't have time or space to sort items. They feared that their garbage will be left at the curb, creating more problems.

Some owners of apartment buildings worried they will be penalized if their tenants don't sort their own garbage properly.

The municipality hoped to save money with these new rules.

Gord Helm, manager of solid waste, said sorting garbage, organics and recycling means the Otter Lake landfill doesn't fill up as quickly.

"If we can source-separate, we can save tens of millions of dollars over years," he told CBC. "If they do it on the front end, we can have a much more efficient program."

The rules about sorting have been in place for 12 years. With clear bags, the municipality will know who's following the rules, Helm said.

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