The Wellington Clear Garbage Bag Pilot Project has been given the green light from County Council Tuesday.
It was deemed a project of interest and council voted to adopt the recommendations received in a report by staff, passing a motion to commence the project beginning in November. Councillor Mike Harper originally proposed this project in the summer.
The project, already being carried out by various other municipalities, would allow for more transparency with regards to waste. The intent is to ensure an excess amount of recyclables are not ending up in landfills.
One recommendation put forth by staff was council approve the unbudgeted operating expenditures related to the pilot project.
Councillor Brad Nieman expressed concern about the unbudgeted contingent of the project.
“In the recommendations, it says that council approves the unbudgeted operating expenditures related to the Wellington Clear Garbage Bag Pilot Project, but you go down to the financial implications and because the project will be wholly funded by public donations, there is no financial implications for this project other than the administration,” stated Nieman, who then asked, “What is the unbudgeted amount here?”
Acting CAO Robert MacAuley explained to Nieman that the reference to unbudgeted expenditures is moreso a precaution.
“I don’t know that we know the number, but the recommendation has been put forth as an abundance of caution,” stated McAuley. “As we have experienced in past community funded projects, sometimes expectations fall short and we are out of pocket on expenses. It’s not expected in this case, but it might happen. If it happens, it’s going to be incurred on our operating budget or there may be times when staff have to do things outside hours. The recommendation, if nothing else, is indicating we are in uncharted territory here-that’s the very definition of a pilot project.”
MacAuley further iterated that they do not expect any unforeseen costs, but until the pilot project is completed, they will not be able to guarantee that.
Harper shed some light on the project, informing staff and council that it is entirely volunteer run by a committee of about six people.
“We are paying for it ourselves. We are not asking for any more from council or the tax payers,”
As Harper explains, the committee is paying for everything from informative advertising to distribution of sample bags.
Another recommendation put forth by staff was that Official Income Tax Receipts be issued to the Wellington Clear Garbage Bag Pilot Project.
Harper asserted that, tax receipts or not, the committee intends to go forth with this project.
Councillor Bill Roberts spoke to the need for large-scale action with regards to climate change, especially in light of the climate emergency declared by council.
“I have a question to put to all of us, collectively,” began Roberts. “That is, we have declared a climate emergency. To me, anyway, an emergency is something different. Paper straws and clear garbage bags are laudable, but just maybe we need to think through how we address less incremental and perhaps less comfortable change, if we are going to be walking the talk of declaring a climate emergency. There’s an old saying that there’s no such thing as having a true principal unless it cost you something.”
Clear garbage bags will be available at local stores. As this is a pilot project, participation will be voluntary, with no bylaw currently in place to enforce involvement.