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West Hants council considering rolling out organic waste recycling to county residents

West Hants council is considering changing how they get people to recycle their kitchen scraps. Instead of requiring backyard composting, residents may soon have the ability to have organic waste picked up at the curb.
West Hants council is considering changing how they get people to recycle their kitchen scraps. Instead of requiring backyard composting, residents may soon have the ability to have organic waste picked up at the curb.

HANTS COUNTY, N.S. — For about the cost of a coffee per week, West Hants residents could soon ditch their backyard composters in favour of having organic waste picked up and trucked away.

But, the changeover is not a sure thing yet.

Following a lengthy discussion at the West Hants committee of the whole meeting May 23, councillors learned how much it would cost to roll out a 'green bin' program for its residents.

Now, they want to hear what residents think about the proposal.

“I can't support going countywide until I ask my constituents what their opinions are,” said Coun. Rupert Jannasch, who represents a rural riding area.

Based on using 64-gallon green carts, the cost per year per household ranges from $53 to $76. According to the report presented to councillors, the expanded service could be provided to just designated growth areas (like Falmouth and Three Mile Plains) or it could be rolled out countywide.

For 7,500 homes in West Hants, the estimated cost per household per year would be $53; for just the Falmouth growth area, $63; for just the Three Mile Plains growth area, about $76.

Other size green carts — like 32 gallons and 21 gallons — are also available for consideration, with the cost difference being, at most, $3 less per year.

“I think having the whole... rural area grouped in together is probably the better option than going and canvassing different communities,” said Coun. Randy Hussey mid-way through a 30-minute discussion.

Chief administrative officer Cathie Osborne said it's up to council to determine the best option.

“If you decide to go West Hants wide, then we will need to deal with some of the issues that will follow from that – from those that obviously do not believe they would ever need the service being asked to pay for the service,” said Osborne.

On the flip side, the CAO said specific areas could be considered. In that case, Osborne said the cost could be applied as an area rate — similar to what Hantsport residents currently pay for organic waste collection. Once they determine which areas — if any — would be covered, they would send out public notices or have a public meeting, she said.

“There is no requirement for them to ask for a vote. The only time a vote is generally put in place is when a petition has come forward to council and then council then goes back out to the larger general public and asks for it,” said Osborne.

But councillors said they were concerned that they haven't consulted their constituents yet — and they want to have public input before proceeding.

“I don't know, without doing something formal, how you would get a good understanding of what the entire community as a whole or our entire districts as a whole (feels),” said Coun. Tanya Leopold, who was in favour of reaching out for public input.

Coun. Debbie Francis shared a similar sentiment.

“ I know in my district, I have some who wanted it and who didn't. So I think we'd have to get some public input and let the residents help us decide on how far we go.”

Coun. Jennifer Daniels made a motion instructing staff to organize proper consultations. The motion passed unanimously.

The CAO said she would return with more details in June. Councillors were also informed that they would have to decide if the municipality is going to provide organic waste collection by September in order to incorporate it into their new municipal waste contract in 2018.

The Province of Nova Scotia banned organic waste and recyclable products from landfills in 1998. As such, all households in West Hants are currently required to backyard compost. Recyclable material, like paper and plastics, is picked up curbside.

Both the Town of Windsor and the Municipality of East Hants currently provides its residents with organic waste pick up.

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