• John Jantak

St. Lazare adopts new fee-structured limited leaf pickup program


YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Last year’s much contested halt to the springtime leaf pick-up has been temporarily reinstated this year, though at a $25 cost to residents per pick-up of a maximum of 50 bags.

After listening to concerns raised by St. Lazare residents about the town’s green waste collection program, town council adopted a resolution during the April 5, Tuesday evening council meeting that revamps the process into three annual pickups.

City officials held a press conference one half-hour before the start of the council meeting to provide details about the revised program, which was abruptly cancelled in spring 2015. The town restored the program last fall after residents in heavily-treed areas demanded its return, but the administration had to also find a compromise to keep residents in other areas that didn’t need the service from paying into it.

Residents with many trees on their properties such as in the Saddlebrook area complained that the town’s decision to abruptly cancel the service meant that homeowners had no way to dispose of their leaves.

Suggestions made by Mayor Robert Grimaudo and councillors at the time that residents should consider adopting more environmentally friendly methods to dispose of leaves such as composting were dismissed by many residents as being impractical because of time and space constraints required for the composting process.

Despite the criticism, St. Lazare officials are adamant the town will eventually achieve its goal of producing zero leaf waste as more property owners adopt composting and shredding green waste as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the pickup.

Under the revamped program, there will be three specific dates for leaf collection annually, one beginning on the last Saturday in May, and two in the fall, one each beginning on the last Saturday in October and November respectively. Homeowners will have to pay the $25 fee each time they use the service and are limited to a maximum of 50 bags for each pickup.

The nominal pickup fee isn’t intended to provide a permanent additional revenue stream, but more as an incentive to persuade residents to adopt their own green waste management recycling program so that all leaves remain within the town’s boundaries, said Geneviève Hamel, the town’s Communications Director.

Hamel, along with the town’s newly hired Director of Town Planning and the Environment Jean Lacroix and Environment Project Manager Lyne Mousseau, stressed that dead leaves are beneficial because they enrich the soil with natural nutrients which help to maintain healthy trees.

Decomposing leaves also play an important role in maintaining an unseen micro-ecosystem substrata to a world of insects and flora that provide food sources for birds and small wild animals that otherwise would have to scrounge for food sources closer to people’s homes.

For Grimaudo, the revamped leaf collection program is the continuation of efforts made by the town to reduce the volume of green waste it transports to landfill sites. From 2007 to 2012, the town reduced by almost 50 per cent the amount of green waste sent to landfills.

“We were asked to find a solution to the pickup and we did,” said Grimaudo in response to a comment made by a resident who complained about the $25 fee per pickup during question period.

“There’s a large portion of the population that did not use it and there’s a certain portion of the town that use it more than others,” said Grimaudo. “We were asked to find a solution where the people using it would pay for it, so that is what we did.

“Yes, it’s a small proportion of the population that use the service and it’s declining every year. Our goal is to eventually eliminate all green waste pickup. I think we answered the requests of the citizens pretty well,” Grimaudo added.

Residents interested in the leaf pickup program can register and pay for the service online. More information is available at https://ville.saint-lazare.qc.ca/en/feuilles.

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