Guelph / Opinion

Guelph needs more green in its yard-waste strategy

Decreased snow removal on our streets and elimination of yard waste pickup in 2012 — those are just two ways that the city has decided to save money while still hiking our taxes.

As of next year, homeowners will no longer be allowed to place their leaves and yard waste at the curb each fall for pickup. This decision was made in order to re-allocate some of our tax dollars to more important things, like library relocations and deserted museums.

But what does this really mean for you? You need to spend more money. For example, to rid your yard of those pesky fall leaves you will need to purchase more of the brown yard waste bags from the big-box stores that we were told we did not want in Guelph (Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire). From there, you will gather and bag the yard waste as normal. Not that big of a deal, right?

But here is the tricky part: Put them in your car. On average, you could put five bags of yard waste into your car; assuming that you have two in your trunk, two in the back seats, and one in the passenger seat — and a really good Shop-Vac. Now off to the wet-dry plant you go.

According to the employees, Saturdays are by far the busiest days at the wet-dry. If you have ever been there on a Saturday in the fall, you know exactly what they mean by “busy.” Makes sense, as many homeowners spend their weekdays working to pay their taxes. You need to be prepared to wait in line for upwards of half an hour. The employees do a wonderful job of keeping the volume moving in and out, but it is not like a Tim Hortons drive thru. So maybe you should stop at the gas station to fuel up at $1.22 per litre on the way back from Walmart!

The city officials tell us not to be upset because dumping yard waste is “free to all Guelph residents.” Yup, free, unless you include the bags and the gas. And, more importantly, our time.

Before you make a call to your local lawn maintenance contractor, understand that there is a cost for them to dump their yard waste. It is typically over $70/tonne, as a matter of fact. But that is nothing new. Lawn maintenance contractors in Guelph have always had to pay to dump the yard waste gathered from around town, regardless of whose lawn it came from. Yet why should they pay the city for something the residents do for free? Taking the leaves from 15 residential lawns in one load saves 14 more cars from driving across town and idling in a long line up at wet-dry. Greener city, right? Guelph makes more money charging small businesses for anything and everything they can. That is why it is such a “business friendly” town I guess.

So when all is said and done, most of our yards will be leaf-free come the end of November. Sure, it’s a little bit more work and it is a lot more time and money. But then again, what could you do with a little bit more time and some extra cash in your pocket?

May I suggest buying yourself a snow plow?



Published in the Guelph Mercury on January 30, 2012


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