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Urban Compass Calgary

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Multi-unit buildings set to get organics pickup next year

If amendment is approved, apartments and condos could have privatized pickup service

While single-family residents get city-provided green bin service, a new bylaw could also require condos and apartments to pay for privatized organics pickup.

Metro File

While single-family residents get city-provided green bin service, a new bylaw could also require condos and apartments to pay for privatized organics pickup.

It’s taken awhile, but starting in 2017, Calgarians will finally be able to toss their food scraps and grass clippings into bins for municipal composting.

Yay us! No more burning with envy when visiting cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. No tsk-tsking about how Calgary is so behind on this.

We’ll have caught up. We’ll each have our own green cart.

Er—most of us, anyway. There’s fine print, as there often is. “Eligible homes” will get the new green cart service. That means single-family homes “up to and including fourplexes,” according to the city.

And what about everyone else? This column was originally going to be a gripe about the plight of apartment and condo-dwellers, many of whom had to wait nearly seven years to get basic recycling service.

As it turns out, this is a good news story.

The city rolled out blue carts in 2009, you’ll recall, but didn’t require multifamily complexes to provide recycling (through the private sector) until 2016.

Entire civilizations rose and fell in that time. OK, not quite, but the Alberta PCs did cycle through five leaders. Taylor Swift put out three albums. It was a really long delay.

I expected a similarly long wait with composting, as a bylaw amendment requiring multifamily complexes to divert organics from the landfill isn’t even slated to go before council until this fall.

But then I called the city last week and was pleasantly surprised.

“If the amendment is approved, all multifamily buildings will have to have food and yard waste diversion as of the fall of 2017—which does directly coincide with the rollout of green carts for single-family residences,” says city waste diversion spokesperson Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar.

The amendment would require businesses and other organizations to do the same.

They won’t get green carts but it will be more or less the same service—only provided by the private sector, not the city.

The city serves single-family homes because doing so is easy and relatively uncomplicated. Condos are trickier.

“For multifamily, there are many more elements at play,” says Seidel-Wassenaar. “You can have fiveplexes, you can have high rises. There’s a lot of variety.”

The city believes the waste management sector in Calgary is now robust enough to handle organics collection and composting.

“They can provide the choice and flexibility for each of the variances in the multifamily sector,” says Seidel-Wassenaar.

The catch is that city council needs to give the proposed amendment the green light. It’s not a given. It’s a no-brainer, yes, but then so are secondary suites, and council has managed to botch that file quite thoroughly.

In the end, organizations—condo boards and businesses alike—are like people. They tend to do things at the last possible minute. An impending deadline, rather than one years off in the distance, will get the job done quickly.

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