not “in the bag”

Barry Hall’s March 11th letter to the Auroran is an excellent critique of the Clear Bag Program the Town of Aurora thankfully voted down. You can read it in full here:

Mr. Hall closes his letter by stating the Clear Bag program is the answer to the question that absolutely no one was asking.

But it was a question somebody asked.

That somebody was Mayor Dawe.

The Clear Bag fiasco was the answer to Dawe’s motion from November of 2013:

I commented on it in a post back in January of 2014 here:

Without Mayor Dawe’s motion Aurora could have been spared the huge waste of time caused by what is clearly an ill-concieved program.

In Brock Weir’s piece from March 11th Dawe justifies his blind faith in the program by saying: “I happen to think environmentally it is the right thing for us to be doing. That is why I brought it forward in the first place and that is why I am supporting it.”

You can read the full piece here:

Dawe also preempts his support by acknowledging the overwhelming backlash the program generated: “I appreciate some people are not happy about the process. I understand it. I get it.”

Some people?

Page 9 of the March 3rd Report No. IES15-014 clearly shows the majority of those surveyed (130/ 171) did not support the program:

If the Mayor “got it” he wouldn’t have supported an amendment to endorse a meaningless voluntary program the following week. Here’s the Auroran article from March 18th:

Kudos to Clr. Kim who called it for what it was: “Frankly, this volunteer suggestion seems like a consolation prize.”

Directed at Mayor Dawe: “Your side lost the previous week.”

To which Mayor Dawe took exception, chastising Clr. Kim by saying there is no such thing as sides.


Of course there are sides.

Two of them.

For or against.

That’s how the whole voting thing works dumbass.

The Mayor’s side lost, and then lost again as the amendment was defeated.

Here is the breakdown of that vote:

One of the key failures with the program was the allowance for opaque bags inside the larger clear bag.

Back in February Rosalyn Gonsalves addressed this in a letter to Auroran:

Markham allows for four opaque bags or grocery bags inside their clear bags. After an open house held at town hall Aurora’s Director of Environmental Services was quoted as saying: “I think the idea of unlimited grocery bags is really good.” in a February 11th Auroran piece here:

Yet a single bag nullifies the effectiveness as demonstrated by Nancee Webb during the Open Forum section of the March 10th council meeting:

Greg Gillies feels the entire issue should be decided by the residents of Aurora and not by nine members of council. In his January 29th, 2014 letter to the Auroran here: he points out that “Since you are unable to distinguish its contents, how is Council going to accommodate residents who currently put their garbage out in solid coloured cans?”

Another concern for residents was exactly how it was envisioned that this program would be enforced.

Page 6 of Report No. IES15-014 speaks to enforcement but without any specifics:

How does VisionQuest, the town’s consultant envision enforcement? Well let’s look at their suggestions to Durham in this 2009 report:

Other pictures illustrate a range of issues including how clear bags function in snow.

Aurorans are being downplayed on the whole enforcement aspect but aren’t buying it.

J. Pilling’s March 6th 2014 letter to the Error Banner seeks more clarity in this area: wondering if the last resort to this program is Garbage Police?

I agree. Without enforcement it is meaningless.

So did Clr. Pirri quoted in this piece: “If this isn’t being policed, why do it?” :

Why indeed.

Why, above an beyond all other waste diversion methods are clear bags the right thing for us to be doing as Aurorans?

Well, it turns out Markham was stupid enough to do it so now they are being held as York Region’s poster child for waste diversion solely because of this single initiative.

I particularly enjoy how a member of Markham council attended Aurora’s event to add pressure. He clearly wasted no time fellating Regional council as per their minutes:

Did anyone consider inviting Mirka Januszkiewicz, Durham Region’s director of waste management services?

In this May 2014 piece she says that “clear bags are not a magical solution to preventing hazardous items from reaching the incinerator — or for increasing Durham’s waste-diversion rate. Education is the best safeguard and that even in a clear garbage bag, a waste disposal driver will not be able to distinguish a battery, for example.”:

Or how about Darren White, deputy mayor of Melancthon Township who explains how “some pretty boneheaded decisions were made in haste.” with respect to what is in place in Dufferin County:

Brent Blackburn from Orangeville would be another interesting perspective to have included:

It would also have been enlightening for Aurorans to hear Galad Elflandsson of Stone Mills perspective. In this piece on Elflandsson concedes “We have no way of effectively twisting peoples’ arm.”: Stone Mills adopted clear bags in 2008, they also accept opaque bags inside clear bags to conceal private waste, but Elflandsson said some residents abuse the rule and conceal recyclables and hazardous waste in their bags. Some go as far as putting a regular- sized black garbage inside a clear bag, concealing all of the contents.

Which brings us right back to Nancee Webb’s demonstration.

Nowhere in any of this do I reach Mayor Dawe’s conclusion that “environmentally” this clear bag program is the right thing for us to be doing.

Neither innovative nor sustainable Dawe’s motion can be clearly reduced to one thing: a huge waste.


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