Garbage and Green Bins in Ottawa

The City of Ottawa during it’s latest budget deliberations came up with yet another way to stop the rate increase from being astronomical to only being big, by proposing that Garbage Collection for the city (which is currently done weekly), be moved to a bi-weekly pick up, thus saving money only having to pick up every other week (I believe they also considered twice a month garbage pick up, but decided against that). Currently Ottawa has a Green Bin program for kitchen waste and such as well as a recycle bin program for paper, metals plastics etc.,.

The Green Bin program “success” seems to be behind the reasoning to move forward with curtailing garbage pick up. Evidently it is much cheaper to pick up Green bins than it is to pick up the garbage (not sure of the numbers, I am sure someone can quote this for me), so thus if we move the green bin pick up to being weekly and cut the garbage pick up we will save everyone $28 a year on their Property Taxes (at least I think that is what the estimates were).

Colour me very skeptical on these alleged savings (the numbers don’t add up in my head), but let us assume that this is not a big shell game switcheroo and we will end up paying the same at the end of it all.

The first folks to voice concern were parents with infants and lots of disposable diapers, you can’t expect that waste to wait two weeks in 90 degree heat over the summer do you? Evidently the City is thinking of doing something about this, although it is not clear what (no soiled disposable diapers will not go in the green bins), there might be a special pick up or drop off program.

Let’s wander through some of the other interesting consequences of this decision (needless to say I will be hitting the downside, feel free to comment about all the good things, if you wish):

  • Will there will be lots of more in the Green Bins can for the new pick up system deal with? Will there be much heavier bins

    A Green Bin

    every week? That remains to be seen, also with all this extra bulk to lift, can the current contractor deal with the extra load? Guess someone has thought of that (I hope). This is where I think the economics will show that in fact it costs about the same.

  • Can the Green Bin system deal with a lot more “illegal” things appearing in the bins? It is human nature to assume folks will be accidentally (or possibly with purpose) putting things that should not be in the Green Bins out with the weekly pick up. This adds more responsibilities on the Bin Pick up crew and at the back end where the waste must be sorted. Sorry folks, this is going to happen whether you like it or not, let’s hope not too much, but more waste, means more mistakes.
  • If the by-law folks enforce the rules well enough and make sure no contraband trash appears in the Green Bin, will we see “arbitrary dumping” of trash into ditches? Maybe. Will folks start bringing trash to work and have them deal with it? Maybe. Will folks be dumping garbage at commercial sites (e.g. restaurant garbage bins, mall bins, etc.,)? Maybe. Especially if they start limiting the amount of garbage you can put out, this will happen.

Will this change really save money? I think it will make folks much more cognizant of the Green Bin program and it will get a lot more of the Kitchen scraps that may be going to the landfill because folks are too lazy to use their Green bins, but will it really save money for the City of Ottawa?  As I said, I am very skeptical, I really don’t see where the “savings” will come from.

What is happening in other Canadian Cities? Please comment and tell us your Trashy story.


Billing Costs Money too, ya know!

They are at it Again!

Yes another rant about Cell Phone costs, my apologies to those who think these are getting repetitive, but I do have a good twist on the story at the end.

I was unhappy to see that Bell Mobility has found yet another way to get under my financial skin, and it will most likely make all the tree-huggers happy, but not me.

I checked on line about my Bell Mobility balance would be (after the previous month’s shenanigans with extra charges, I am now sufficiently concerned that I check my on line bill balance quite often), for this month, and was again greeted, by yet another mystery charge for $2.00, which was not explained on line. The only way to be sure was going to wait until the paper copy of my Bell Mobility bill arrived, delivered by Canada Post.

Was this like the $2.80 “Touch Tone Phone” fee that I pay for my home phone (this fee is just a cash grab, as you can’t have a rotary dial phone any more, and you can’t dodge this fee (and the phone switch I connect to, won’t work with a rotary dial phone, it only works with a touch tone phone) but I digress)? Nope, and the irony of me finding out about it by Canada Post, was not lost on me.

$2 Paper Bill Fee

Two Dollar Coin
A Toonie For Your Thoughts

Now, since I receive my Cell Phone Bill from Bell Mobility via Canada Post, I must now pay $2.00 for this privilege. I found out about this by reading my paper bill, as  I couldn’t figure that out from the On Line bill that Bell puts up on their web site (I feel the irony of that is exquisite, but then again, I enjoy cold sores as well).

For you tree-huggers out there that think that Bell is being a Good Green Corporate Citizen, think again. A paperless bill saves them postage fees, and better still administrative overhead (i.e. employees), because the whole system is automated (in other words you get an e-mail (hopefully) informing you your bill is there) and thus there is no paperwork to be followed.

The added plus is, that if your e-mail gets eaten by the Spam Folder or worse your computer crashes (or it gets lost in an e-mail Tsunami), you can then be charged late fees for a bill you never really received (but then again you can’t prove you didn’t because the sender can simply say, “I sent it, it’s in my Outbox”). This can happen with paper bills as well, but a lot less likely.

Bravo Bell Mobility for creating more Shareholder value by adding more fees to your customers, you are starting to rival the banks in your ability to create new income streams.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a BCE stockholder, a Bank Stockholder and unfortunately a Bell customer, so I am very torn about this whole thing (i.e. part of me is delighted, and part of me is irate).

Welcome to the Paperless Society (a phrase I heard coined in 1979, so it has taken a while!).


Random Thoughts: Happy Earth Day!

OK I am a day late

Yes, Earth Day came and went yesterday with nary a post by anyone about saving our Mother Earth. Given the rabid Green movement these days, having an Earth Day seems a little anti-climactic. We have Hybrid cars, Composting Garbage pick ups, and other major steps in the right direction, but we also have the bottled water craze which is pumping out more waste (in empty bottles) than anyone could have imagined. Bottled water if you live in Canada or the U.S. seems a little silly, given tap water is usually just fine (unless you live in Love Canal or places like that), but remember you need to have a metal water bottle (until they realize that solder leaching out of these bottles may cause cancer).

Remember the bad old days of the pull tab on cans (that you threw away)? Those were the days.

What’s new in the financial blog-o-sphere? More of the same old, but remember, Taxes are due, and interest rates are poised to jump a lot in the next few months as well.

  • Michael James points out some Income Tax Myths that you might need to think about at this time of year. No the CRA Tax Bunny does not correct your mistakes, either!
  • Preet had his own Ash Hole story with his post Iceland’s Smoke Monster (no not a veiled reference to Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple either), pointing out the importance of travel insurance or having enough space on your credit card to get a hotel room, in an emergency.
  • The CanadianFinanceBlog points out Low Interest Rates: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, yes low interest rates can be bad as well!
  • Larry MacDonald writes about RIM’s advantage in instant messaging and questioning whether RIM is actually at a disadvantage to the iPhone. My only comment is that RIM’s NOC software has had some issues in the past that make this advantage tenuous at times.
  • With the new mortgage rules in place, Million Dollar Journey reminds us to Avoid the 5-Year Fixed Mortgage which I agree with somewhat. I locked in with my first mortgage and ended up overpaying by 50% by the end of the term, but remember you need to live with what you are comfortable with in terms of paying for your mortgage.
  • The Canadian Couch Potato (or as they are also known Bud THe Money Spud) gives us An Easy Way to Buy the World in terms of stocks at least.
  • With Facehole, I mean Facebook giving applications a lot more access to your data LifeHacker points out that you should Delete Facebook Apps that Now Have Greater Access to Your Data. Keep that in mind if you want to keep your privacy.
  • Promod at Riscario Insider asks the odd question Are you Saving TOo Much For Retirement?Luckily it is a rhetorical-ish question, since you can never really save too much for your retirement (and Promod should know he is an Actuary).

Enjoy the spring, get some fresh air, and tomorrow an excellent off topic video about de-bunking psychics from Ted.com!


Random Thoughts: Advent Begins

For those of you saying, “Christmas starts too early every year“, I agree, the real start to the season (if you want to call it Christmas) should be Advent, and this past Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent, so Happy Advent! For those of you who wish to call this “The Holiday Season”, then start whenever you want, since that season seems to start in September.

Random Thoughts: Tiger by the tail

Given Tigers Woods’ dalliances and driving seems to have filled the news this week, I figured that title would work as well for me. Some ask, “How can he do that, he has so much money”, maybe it’s because he has so much money that he thinks he can do that, is the answer. Rich people make just as stupid decisions as we working poor, just they have a lot more money to make those decisions with (thus they can be much more spectacular and interesting to read about).

  • Michael James attempts to tackle the interesting question about Financial Advisor Self-Regulation and whether Fraud is really the problem here.
  • Preet at WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo gets into the festive Advent mood by offering a Reader Appreciation: iPod Touch Giveaway! go over and leave a comment to register.
  • Canadian Capitalist points out The Institute for Financial Learning Ponzi Scheme which is just a sinister way to steal money from folks.
  • Larry MacDonald points out another thing that happens during Advent, stock sell offs where you might go Bargain Hunting and Tax-loss selling are there other bargains out there?
  • Gail Vaz-Oxlade points out that there is no piety in being House Poor and she gives you some hints on how not to end up that way.
  • The Four Pillars discusses the interesting points of Threats as a Negotiation Strategy , which is a methodology I have used in the past, but you must be willing to follow through with your bluff/threat or you may be very unhappy with the results.
  • Promod at Riscario Insider gives a useful primer on What happens during a paramedical exam for life insurance his best point is act like you are on the witness stand and do NOT yak with the person doing the exam!

Enjoy the Advent season!


Garbage in Ottawa Stinks

A rant from 2009, and all these fees on my tax bill have gone up.

A preliminary report from the City of Ottawa garbage folks has floated the idea of removing the Garbage Collection portion of the City Taxes and turn it into a user fee. With this move City Taxes will drop by $86 which sounds like a nice idea, however, the User Fee for Garbage is slated to be $195 per household which is about a 115% increase in the cost of paying for Garbage in Ottawa.

How is this possible? Let’s look a little closer:

  • $86 is our original garbage fee, so we’ll keep that
  • $41 fee for the black and blue box program in place (say that 5 times fast)
  • $68 for the new Green Bin program for organics and compost and such

Now that is an expensive program. If you are a rural Ottawa person you won’t have to pay for the Green Bins, since you won’t have them, but you’ll still have your garbage fee go up by around 50%.

My suspicion is that garbage collection will become more like water and sewers and will become a bi-monthly billed program, which will then spiral in price to match the cost of garbage collection.

Do I have any other options here? No, I can’t opt out, I can’t claim I don’t use the service, so I must pay, as must my neighbours.


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