Landfill wait times 'insane'

Okotoks: Alternative waste disposal encouraged

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 04:13 pm

Scale operator Kaitlyn Doyle weighs a vehicle on its way into the landfill. She says the
Scale operator Kaitlyn Doyle weighs a vehicle on its way into the landfill. She says the "crazy" traffic on Saturdays has kept them working non-stop.
ROXANNE BLACKWELL/OWW

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Tips to reduce or avoid a wait at the landfill

1) Go during slower weekday hours, including the late hours until 6:30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting June 17.
2) Bring cash. The landfill said 75 per cent of people are paying with debit or credit for $5.00 loads, doubling their time at the window and slowing things down.
3) Request an additional or larger garbage bin from the Town of Okotoks to avoid making a trip to the landfill at all.
4) Make room in your bin by visiting the recycling depot to drop off items such as cardboard.

After spending a day off doing yard work or taking care of some spring cleaning, the final step is often a quick trip to the landfill, but for some that quick trip has turned into a three-hour chore.

For the last few weeks, the line-ups on Saturdays at the Foothills Regional Landfill have left some residents waiting in line for nearly an hour before getting into the landfill, only to be told that it’s going to be another two hours in line before they can get back out.

Tasha Stiles is one of the scale house operators at the landfill and she said they just can’t keep up with the mass amounts of people that have been coming out on weekends.

“I told every single person who came to our window ‘do you want to stay or do you want to go, because it’s a two hour wait to get out of our lineup,’” she said. “People had that option to get off the scale and about 100 of them turned back around.”

But there were still 681 people who stuck it out and waited in the lines to dump their loads off of May 24.

Assistant landfill manager Joe Angevine said they’re trying to figure out what can be done to solve the problem.

“We ask, ‘hey, you know it’s a gong show out here, why do you come on Saturday?’” Angevine said.

What they’re hearing from residents is that they’re unable to come during the weekday hours, as the facility closes at 4:30 p.m. As a result, Angevine said they’re planning to stay open late on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, tentatively starting June 17 to help ease the pressures.

“Last year we opened up Tuesday and Wednesday nights for two hours later, closing at 6:30 p.m., but not many people used it,” Angevine said. “We’d get 15 to 20 people. If we can get 50 people on those two nights then we’re looking at 600 instead of 700 on Saturday. That’s kind of the plan.”

One of Angevine’s bigger concerns was that half of the 545 residential loads were coming from Okotoks. In comparison, High River only had 58.

“Looking at the difference between the towns tells me that something’s going on there,” he said. “You shouldn’t have four times the traffic, you should have double.”

Okotoks town councillor Matt Rockley, who sits on the Foothills Regional Services Commission, said some residents are struggling with the size of their garbage bins, which are half the size of those in High River.

“It’s that time of year… where people are finding themselves with more household waste than usual,” he said. “Some households aren’t able to fit all of their garbage into the town’s garbage collection bins.”

The 120 litre bins were introduced in 2012 when manual garbage pickup was eliminated. The smaller bins help provide incentive for residents to recycle, but Rockley said the Town felt the smaller carts best fit the community’s needs.

“When the decision was made, we had options of an 80L, 120L or 240L cart,” he said. “We did quit an extensive public consultation on the bin sizes and a strong majority stated that 120L carts would meet their weekly requirements. So we went with the 120L cart with options for a second cart and then later on found the option for a larger cart.”

Okotoks residents can currently rent a second 120L cart for $9 per month, or they can rent a 180L cart for $13.50 per month if the provided standard bin does not fit their needs. Although there is a cost associated with the additional bins, there is also a minimum $5 charge for each residential load dropped off at the landfill, plus up to three hours of your time.

As a scale operator, Stiles said she wishes it could be a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.

“It’s not like we can have girls on rollerblades serving up hotdogs along the line,” she said with a laugh. “It’s a long wait to be sitting for hours waiting at the landfill. It sucks. You want to get in and get out, but we can’t control how many people come through the gate.”


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