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Big compost didn’t work so councillor wants Edmonton to go small scale

Click to play video 'Amid compost pilot, Edmonton councillor suggests local approach' Amid compost pilot, Edmonton councillor suggests local approach
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton is three months into a new waste collection pilot that includes green composting bins. As Sarah Kraus reports, Coun. Aaron Paquette says residents could take their own initiative – Jul 15, 2019

After the plug was pulled on Edmonton’s compost facility in May, Councillor Aaron Paquette has been mulling over what should be done in the interim.

Paquette will pursue a neighborhood plan at Tuesday’s city council meeting. It’s a plan a lot of residents he’s heard from support, in part, so they can get the benefit.

“That one-stop shop that was sold to the public many years ago obviously isn’t working,” he said after tabling a notice of motion ahead of this week’s final city council meeting before the summer break.

“Communities are saying: ‘We want to have solutions that we’re in charge of.’ So having a composting program is one way of doing it.”

Paquette said that since the city is moving to a new waste program — where the homeowner has to separate the trash before putting it out to the curb — it’s a good time to try to get some “positive outcomes” from the new system.

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READ MORE: Edmonton Composting Facility shutting down immediately due to rotten roof

“If we’re going to be asking people to separate their waste anyway, and we currently do not have a functioning composting facility, it would only make sense that communities can do it themselves. They can reap the benefit for themselves and at the same time, we will be diverting and saving money.”

Watch below (May 19): City of Edmonton waste services branch manager Michael Labrecque answering questions about the Edmonton Composting Facility being closed immediately.

Click to play video 'Edmonton Composting Facility shutting down due to rotten roof' Edmonton Composting Facility shutting down due to rotten roof
Edmonton Composting Facility shutting down due to rotten roof – May 29, 2019

Several community leagues sell compost in the spring as a fundraiser.

The defunct compost facility, which opened in 2000 at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre, closed on a couple of occasions in the winter because the roof rotted from the heat and chemicals used in the aerobic composting process. It reopened in the late spring.

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However, the composter was closed for good over the winter of 2018 and into the spring of 2019, after fears of the roof collapsing under possible heavy snow, making it unsafe for staff and contractors to be inside. It had been used seasonally, but a report last spring deemed that the building couldn’t be saved.

Watch below (May 2): An Edmonton entrepreneur is raising questions about how much homeowners pay each month for waste collection. As Vinesh Pratap reports, he’s suggesting a similar level of service could be provided at a lower cost.

Click to play video 'Entrepreneur questions how much Edmontonians pay for waste collection' Entrepreneur questions how much Edmontonians pay for waste collection
Entrepreneur questions how much Edmontonians pay for waste collection – May 2, 2019

READ MORE: Report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved

Others, Paquette said, are ready to step in on a neighbourhood-sized program that could earn local community groups revenue from compost sales.

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“We have a master composter-recycler program where we have people who are expert at this. They are ready to go. They are excited about the prospect of being able to bring this knowledge and expertise to the community.

“If every community wanted to do this, that would make a heck of a dent, positively, for our budget.”

“They could put it in their yards, in their gardens — I don’t know, maybe there’s some entrepreneurs out there too. This could be a net benefit for everyone — not only money for the community leagues, but diverting from our landfill saves us money and it’s something that just makes sense.”

A long-term plan on a city-run replacement facility will be before city council later this fall. Currently about 8,000 homes in 13 neighbourhoods are taking part in a pilot program that has them using new carts to separate their waste into organics, recyclables and trash.

Paquette said he’d like to see a response to his motion brought back at the same time and he’s hoping some of the ideas from the citizens group will mean less cost to ratepayers.