Bulky commercial garbage ban reveals more trash problems

Mattresses sit at the curb outside a Second Street West business in early December 2014. A change to bulky waste pickup for commerical properties saw talk around the council table drift into discussions about problems with the current law and dealing with eyesores, specifically this situation in Riverdale. The mattresses sat on the curb with a notice attached to them for nearly a week. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Local businesses won’t be able to put bulky items at the curb come April 1 – no joke.

As expected, city council green-lighted changes to the solid waste bylaw Monday night, outlawing the practice of putting couches, sofas and bed frames on the curb at commercial and industrial properties.

But the move still didn’t sit well with some councillors and the discussion spiralled into other problems with waste management.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald questioned whether the city was “going a little bit far” with dealing with the problems outside one business in Le Village. “It seems to be extreme to deal with one establishment’s malpractice,” she told council.

Coun. Claude McIntosh said changing laws are fine but enforcement is another issue, citing the couple mattresses that sat outside a Second Street West business for nearly a week before they disappeared.

Coun. Andre Rivette said the situation in Riverdale with the mattresses shouldn’t have happened. “It’s at the curb it’s a garbage problem. That should be part of it,” he said. The veteran councillor said if the city didn’t want to deal with the eyesore “we should get out of it (the garbage business).”

Coun. Bernadette Clement, also on the city’s property standards committee, says it’s a frustrating situation and a lot of inter-departmental confusion for residents.

“The comments that we received at the committee from community members are that they feel they are shuffled from one department to the next, because it is complex. If it’s on your property, it’s property standards. If it’s on your curb, it’s solid waste. It’s hard to figure out what’s what,” she told Cornwall Newswatch.

Environmental Division Manager Morris McCormick conceded there are issues but “we see it (the Solid Waste Management Plan) as an extremely successful program” noting there have been no fines since the mattress curbside ban went info effect in August.

McCormick also admitted that junk placed at the curb is the responsibility of the property owner and there’s no way to prevent someone from dumping their bulky trash on another person’s property.

Coun. Clement says there’s more work to do. “There are people who fall in the cracks and it seems to affect the older, poorer neighbourhoods. If you don’t have car, what are you doing to do with your mattress? You’ve bought a new mattress. You put it (the old one) to the curb and then you’re told you can’t do that. Well okay, I’m going to, what, put it back in my house? Put it on my lawn? Find a friend to help me take it to the landfill? This is where things fall into the cracks. We are not really connecting people to what they can do in a practical way,” she said.

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