City works toward plan of action as residents grow impatient

thumb BlueBinIMAGEFor Calgary couple Peter and Natalia Sawchuk, living in a northwest apartment has proved to have disadvantages when it comes to recycling.

“When we were in Ontario, we had a recycling chute in our apartment building,” Peter Sawchuk said.

Trips to recycling depots and storing bags upon bags of recycling does not fit the Sawchuks’ lifestyle.

 “I would just throw everything out,” Natalia Sawchuk said, “But I feel guilty.

“It takes up space in our house, to store everything until we get enough to make the trip seemingly worthwhile. There are some things that I might normally recycle that I don’t.”

While the Sawchuks use recycling depots about once a month, they said it would be preferable to have recycling services readily available in their apartment complex.

Calgary environmentalists aren’t crazy about the lack of recycling either, although Green Calgary executive director Patricia Cameron said we have come a long way, but it is about commitment. That is, residents interested in recycling must make their own decisions about what to do with their recycling.

“At this point, interested citizens who live in multi-family complexes would be best BlueBinIMAGE2Natalia Sawchuk would like to see blue bins at the apartment complex she and her husband live in. According to the city, an engagement process for blue bin recycling is in the works for multi-family housing.

Photo by Nicolle Amyotteserved by joining together to ask the management company or board of directors and their waste haulers to support composting and recycling,” Cameron said.

Approximately 150,000 households in Calgary do not receive service from the Blue Cart program, according to the City of Calgary.

These households make their own recycling decisions. Households not serviced by the city are those with more than four common dwellings within a single complex.

David McIlveen, a representative for Boardwalk Rental Communities, said that the reason their properties aren’t on board with the blue bin program is simply that their buildings are older.

“The issue of it is usually placement, because we can’t put boxes or bins in the hallways because it’s not safe, the fire marshal wouldn’t allow it,” McIlveen said.

“These apartments were built before recycling was even a thing. There isn’t really space for a large recycling bin, so generally what we do is try to direct people who are interested in recycling to the city recycling depots.

“Recycling is available. You just take it down to the depot, that’s what my family does. It’s not like they can’t do it,” McIllveen added.

Philippa Wagner, a representative from Waste & Recycling Services with the City of Calgary, said that an “engagement process” is in the works for multi-family housing, to help decide on a strategy to use.

Wagner said that the city is now ‘completely unsure’ of the direction they will be going with recycling. The engagement process involves surveys inquiring into the wants and needs of residents in multi-residential homes. This process is currently ongoing.

After the engagement process, she said, taking everyone’s needs into account, the department would take a choice to Council. At soonest residents can see a change is during the budget cycle of 2015-2017, which will reflect a plan for the collection of recycling in these complexes. 

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