Thunder Bay

Free week at Thunder Bay's landfill is officially trashed

Thunder Bay residents’ annual free trip to the city’s solid waste and recycling facility is now a thing of the past.

CIty officials say program's cancellation is a planning decision, not a budget decision

Approved in principle by council in 2014, the Solid Waste Management Strategy advised the City of Thunder Bay to eliminate free disposal week and explore other options to better manage materials that are disposed of during the annual free event in May. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Thunder Bay residents' annual free trip to the city's solid waste and recycling facility is now a thing of the past.

The decision to cancel the event, held each year in May, was made by city council during the 2016 budget process. The city wants to explore other options to better manage materials that are thrown out — without cost to city residents — each May.

Allowing free trips to the dump cost the city at least an estimated $50 thousand dollars per year, said Jason Sherband, the manager of Thunder Bay's solid waste and recycling services, but he added that that the decision was not driven by budgetary considerations.

"[The program] really got away from its intended purpose and what it was way back in the day of just cleaning up yards," he told CBC News. "I think just sort of looking at the direction, moving forward, we just thought it was the right decision."

Sherband added that promoting the free disposal of garbage rewarded generating waste, and didn't advocate for recycling.

The city said residents can still dispose of unneeded items at local second-hand shops, charity retailers, and trade-and-sell websites.

Treasure exchange days, a city-wide event hosted in the spring and fall, also allows residents to leave reusable items at the curb labeled "free" for anyone to pick up.

Jason Sherband manages Thunder Bay's solid waste and recycling services. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Sherband said he doesn't worry that canceling free trips to the landfill in May will simply encourage people to dump unwanted items illegally in green lots or bush.

"I look at it as people who illegally dump waste will probably always illegally dump waste, no matter if free week was there or not," he said. "I don't know that there's really any correlation to that."

For more information about the City of Thunder Bay's Solid Waste Management Strategy, click here.

Do you agree with Thunder Bay cancelling the free week at the Solid Waste & Recycling Facility?

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