Great Garbage Garbungle gets groovy

(Crystal Schick/Times-Herald)


Robert Thomas

Summer is usually when politics are forgotten as people head outdoors, but as the heat wave has intensified, so too has the anger of more than a few Moose Javians about what’s happening with their trash.

We have witnessed Moose Javians attempt to express their concerns at public meetings. Meetings where many thought they would be consulted and their concerns heard, but were politely told meetings were for informational purposes only. Many residents left frustrated. The consultation many envisioned after Coun. Don Mitchell’s speeches at council are just not happening. It’s like something has drowned out Citizen Don.

I admit I’ve spoken to residents who appreciated the meetings because they finally got questions answered. It’s a good news result for the city, but the bad news for a minority.

Despite their best efforts, the city is stuck in a groove when it comes to curb side conversion as the Great Garbage Garbungle digs itself into even deeper ruts. As an exercise in PR it serves as a lesson to budding public relations professionals what not to do.

It’s also a demonstration of what can happen when the PR manager is not there. With the position now officially vacant here’s hoping it can be filled quickly with the right person. Two more managers also resigning at the same time is bad news, very bad news indeed.

I realize people will say this is Moose Jaw and the same people always complain, they always hold up progress, but for me this time it’s different.

“People here do not like change and will soon accept it,” I was told by a city worker weeks ago, so far he’s been wrong. Problem is, people are still upset and talking about it. There is no Summer holiday for the people at the corner of Fairford and Main.

As the city comes out with a PR offensive and more reasons why they should complete the process, to get it done, the more resistance I am hearing. It’s just not working.

Using recent garbage truck suspension breakdowns due to back alley potholes to justify and accelerate the curb side conversion has also drawn collateral ire the city may not have anticipated.

Certainly there are skeptics out there about the alleys doing this type of damage because it’s speed, holes and heavy loads that do massive damage to truck suspensions. How fast are they driving when they collect garbage? Couldn’t this damage have really happened over the years because of Moose Jaw’s notorious potholed roads or at the dump?

Others have approached me with carefully scribbled out notes where they ask, if the heavy duty suspensions of the garbage trucks have been damaged by back alley potholes, why don’t they simply grade them? And if garbage collection goes curb side will the city quit grading alleys?

Lots of people speak about calling the mayor and getting a phone call back a couple of days later. But in July that’s changed and it’s two or three weeks later, and he hasn’t called back. Summer holidays? Perhaps. Or is it a change in handling the public? Maybe a need at city hall to move on with their agenda.

Others have told me curb side is actually better for their street but they all live west of Ninth Avenue Northwest and definitely north of Caribou Street West.

Many cannot believe council could be discussing urban chickens when residents worry about rats when it comes to bi-weekly garbage collection. A hot dry summer like this one has been has caused more than a few to raise a stink about an anticipated odour.

The reason I relate these concerns is to show that despite their best efforts, city hall is getting groovy PR wise and the funk people are hearing simply isn’t the proper way to move their trash. How does the city get out of this scratched record groove and playing a new and better tune is a question I cannot answer. But they need to find one soon.