Reduce, re-use, recycle – Those are the commandments of the new millennium when it comes to being ‘environmentally friendly’. On the prairies, Winnipeg and Regina have not exactly been world leaders when it comes to recycling, but they’re determined to catch up.
Both cities have hitched their green wagons to an outfit called Emterra Waste Management. They have succeeded in getting the garbage and recycling business in many communities across the country, but the experience has not been a glowing one on the prairies.
In Winnipeg, Emterra has had a lot of trouble meeting its commitments. In the first few months after they were awarded the garbage contract last year, there were hundreds of complaints. In some neighbourhoods, rotting garbage and flammable recyclables were left in overflowing bins in back lanes for weeks at a time. This led to lovely problems like rat infestations and garbage fires being deliberately set.
Regina is finally joining the world of curbside recycling as of Canada Day, but there will be no facility to process the stuff right away. In that huge complex known as the Global Transportation Hub on Regina’s west side, Emterra is building a processing plant the size of a hanger for jumbo jets, but it won’t be operational for at least a couple more months. For now, the recyclables are being baled and stored, mostly outdoors.
Most of this work used to be done by public employees, but over the years the proponents of privatization have won the day.
The contracts that the company has signed in Regina and Winnipeg include penalties when performance targets are not met. Hopefully that will be enough to ensure that the job gets done.
I’m Roger Currie