Bayham councillors took no action on a request from the citizen group, Bayham Garbage Busters, for free bag tags to help with municipal roadside cleanup efforts. While hesitant to start offering “free” tags beyond the current annual allotment to residents and businesses, they did suggest a possible effort to collect surplus tags for the volunteer group.
Bayham Garbage Busters, is a citizen volunteer group that consists of Sierge Pieters, Susanne Schlotzhauer, Cindy Stewart and Marni Wolfe that was formed to raise awareness about illegal roadside dumping in Bayham, as well as combat the issue.
The group sent several letters to council, including on May 7 and May 11, requesting that the municipality supply garbage bag tags to volunteers for the roadside trash they collect.
“Volunteers are providing their time, protective equipment and garbage bags; we do not feel that it is fair to continue expecting them to use up their own tags or purchase additional tags,” wrote the Garbage Busters.
Chief Administrative Officer Thomas Thayer said, the municipality provides 140,000 “free” garbage tags for distribution to residential property owners and to businesses.
“At a $2 per tag cost, that’s $280,000 of free tags that the municipality is already distributing,” said Mr. Thayer.
Deputy Mayor Weisler thanked the group for raising awareness to the illegal dumping problem, and that it has been a long-time issue.
Illegal dumping is not isolated to Bayham, she said, and in her research found that Durham, Oshawa, Windsor, Niagara, Welland, and the Greater Toronto Area have similarly experienced illegal dumping on back roads and rural areas.
“In Peel region, they got creative and have developed a program much like the United States called the ‘Adopt-a-Road’ program in an effort to reduce the amount of garbage and engage the community in their efforts,” said Deputy Mayor Weisler.
None of these programs, local or in the United States, cover the cost of garbage removal on behalf of the volunteers. “The expectation is that the organization or the volunteer is responsible for all cleanup efforts.”
The municipality currently provides annual bag tags kits to residents and businesses which contain 52 tags and 86 tags, respectively. Agricultural property owners are eligible to receive 16 additional tags upon verification of the farm class tax at the municipal office.
Additional bag tags can be purchased for $2 at the municipal office or four variety stores throughout the municipality.
“I have concerns that should this program be altered from household and commercial use to include volunteer groups, it would set a dangerous precedent, and it would be very difficult to control,” said Deputy Mayor Weisler.
While she does not support giving the group an allotment of garbage tags, she recommended that Garbage Busters work with municipal staff to secure unclaimed bag tags on an as-needed basis, or bag tags that are gifted back to the municipality.
“For example, some businesses in Bayham have made alternate arrangements to get rid of their garbage and do not collect their bag tags each year despite being entitled to them,” she said. “Should those businesses wish to donate their tags to the Bayham Garbage Busters, I would be in complete support of this initiative.”
Councillor Valerie Donnell and Cr. Susan Chilcott both said the municipality should work with the group as much as possible, but not hand out bag tags to volunteers.
Cr. Dan Froese said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm of cleaning up the municipality. “I would be a little bit more on the lenient side to trust our staff to give the trusted people the tags. But all in all, I think we’re in a positive way to clean up Bayham.”
Mayor Ed Ketchabaw commented that it’s an evolving issue, and that staff are currently working on ways to combat the illegal dumping issue in Bayham.
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express