Complaints That Curbside Collection Telephone Survey was "One-sided"

Robert Thomas

The issue of curbside collection, and whether or not a recent telephone survey was one-sided, was put in front of Moose Jaw City Council at their meeting on Monday, February 26th.

In a presentation to Council, Moose Jaw resident Michel Labonte stated his opinion on the two related issues and how he had concerns about them.

Labonte criticized a recent $10,000 telephone survey that looked into residents feelings on curbside pickup. He called it a “phoney phone survey designed to support maybe one point of view.”

Michel Labonte addressing council.

Michel Labonte addressing council.

He claimed to have received a call and was asked only three questions; and not eight to ten, as was expected.

The questions Labonte claimed he was asked were: if he lived in an apartment or a house? What day his garbage was collected? And whether or not it was backlane or curbside collection? At that time the telephone survey ended, he claimed.

When he asked the interviewer why the survey was ending after only three questions, not the eight to 10 he was told to expect, Labonte claimed he received no response. But Labonte was provided with a supervisor’s telephone number, which he claimed he called two times, but received no response.

“We the taxpayers of this city do support our Council and our Administration with not just a good salary, benefits and a pension plan, we support them also with our honest feedback. Administration with City Council should be supporting the will of the people instead of working at time against the wishes of those that they represent,” Labonte told Council.

The $10,000 telephone survey was conducted for the City at the end of January to gauge residents’ opinions on curbside collection. The survey was to interview 200 people in areas already converted and 200 people in areas not yet converted, to give Council the most objective feedback on reactions to curbside collection. The final survey results are expected to be tabulated by March 9th.

Earlier in his presentation, Labonte spoke about everyday people, like himself, and how they should be welcomed to come to Council to speak, as it was good for democracy for everyone to be able come forward and express an opinion if they chose to do so.

However, it should be noted that the City has recently been campaigning to have more residents come to meetings and be heard.

His opinion was solidly against transitioning to curbside collection of both solid waste and recycling.

“Many are working very hard right now to try to attract new life in our city and thinking about filling up all our beautiful streets with the plastic bins, which are sitting very nicely in our back lane would be, in my view, very counterproductive to our goal,” Labonte told Council.

"I truly don't believe taking all of those bins from our back Lane and moving them between cars and trucks in our beautiful streets will help us save anymore time and money,” he told Council, adding, in his opinion, it would take more time and money to go around vehicles to pick the garbage up.

Labonte asked Council for the City to run an informational campaign, through Canada Post, where residents would be reminded to roll their bins into the alley just prior to collection to prevent the bins from unnecessary damage.

He also asked that residents be reminded to share any extra space they may have in their bins with neighbours in order to insure everyone’s solid waste made it to the landfill and did not clutter up back lanes or neighbourhoods.

In questioning from Councillor Chris Warren about Labonte’s claim, Communications Director Craig Hemingway said he had never heard about this happening.

“It's confusing to me. This is the first I have heard of it. If that’s all that had happened it shouldn't have happened,” Hemingway told Council, adding, he would be obtaining information to look into exactly what happened.

During budget deliberations, Council was provided with Global Position System information which demonstrated curbside collection was 18 percent more efficient than backlane collection in areas transitioned.

At the January 13th Budget Committee meeting – with MJ Independent the only media in attendance - an attempt was made to pass curbside for the entire city, without public consultation, which resulted in a debate and the issue being tabled until after the results of the telephone survey were provided to Council.

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