Garbage issues a cause for concern for Ottawa residents

Kaitlyn Leigh, 27, outside her Ottawa home. (Nov. 19, 2017)

Roadside garbage collection has been a cause for concern in Ottawa according to an analysis of the city’s 2017 monthly 311-request datasets.

From the beginning of the year until October there has been just over 29,000 complaints to Ottawa’s 311 service concerning garbage.

Kaitlyn Leigh, a resident of Barrhaven, has accounted for five of those complaints and argues that the city needs to do a better job when collecting garbage.

Her frustration comes from multiple instances where Leigh returned home from work to find remaining debris and bins sprawled out among her front yard.

“They’re just lazy, they pick it up and toss it in without caring if the bags rip or if they leave anything behind,” said a frustrated Leigh outside her home.

Leigh’s complaints are no stranger to Barrhaven as the ward has accounted for the highest amount of roadside garbage complaints in Ottawa so far this year. Their 1,921 complaints are 140 more than the next closest area in Kitchissippi.

This comes as no surprise to Leigh who moved to Ottawa in early 2016. She says that it has become a trend in the area and that she and her neighbours are growing tired of picking up after the garbage collection workers.

“If we follow the schedule and place the correct items in the correct bins we shouldn’t have to wake up and find it on our lawns,” said Leigh.

When it comes to garbage, 311 requests can be made to the city if there were items left behind or if a street has been uncollected. Which is another type of complaint that Leigh was forced to make.

After Easter weekend, Leigh made another call to Ottawa 311 to report that her street had been uncollected. She was told that there had been a mistake in the schedule after the holiday and that it would be picked up the following week.

“The most annoying part of it was having to stash the garbage and wait a whole week for it to be picked up again,” said Leigh, “I never understood why they couldn’t have sent another truck out the pick up what they had missed.”

Almost 45 per cent of the garbage-related requests this year have involved organics. Kina Leclair, the city of Ottawa’s senior communication officer, says that often times animals can get into green bins overnight causing a mess to be left behind. Her advice for homeowners is to make sure the bins are secured or if possible take them out the morning of collection day.

“It’s the best way to avoid the mess and to avoid having unwanted animals getting into your garbage at night,” said Leclair.

Garbage complaints account for over 11 per cent of the city’s total 246,000 service requests that have been recorded until October of this year.

The city has remained fairly silent on the issue however Leclair has stated that the city tries to attend to as many issues as possible. However, with the overwhelming number of complaints each month it becomes difficult to keep up.

“We encourage those who have an issues to keep reporting to the city and we’ll do our best to resolve it,” said Leclair.

As of October in 2016, the city had exactly 1,000 less complaints concerning garbage than they’ve had this year. But the city feels as tough this trend will not continue in the years ahead.

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