Menard: Make A Garbage Decision, Get It Right .12.26


“(Capital Councillor Shawn) Menard says the decision about building a new landfill or a new incinerator will come next year, after staff have fully analyzed the positions, those costs and benefits of each, and what makes sense for Ottawa.”

Menard as translated by CTV News


Staff at Ottawa City Hall has been looking for solution to the garbage problem since the days of councillors Gord Hunter and Alex Cullen when your agent covered Laurier Avenue for the Citizen and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Just how many more decades must we wait for a solution? The Manhattan project took less time.

And with the garbage bag limit, how much more trash will be thrown into ditches or woods or back alleys or private dumpsters … Sorry our ideologues on city council don’t know human nature.

The idea of garbage bag tags (in other words limiting the amount of garbage being placed at the curb) was tried in Osgoode Township prior to amalgamation. According to former Osgoode councillor Doug Thompson (who was township reeve at the time), it was a disaster.

Garbage was tossed everywhere. People stole tags. It goes on and on.

Limiting garbage removal causes no end of problems.

One of those is rats and other vermin.

Beyond being distasteful, they, or the fleas on them, pass on a wide variety of diseases today and in the past, black plague. Public health warned of this many years ago and guess what? We’ve got rats. Next, we get disease.

Try to get re-elected councillor with black plague bouncing around your ward. That will be a struggle.

So don’t kick the can down the road as you are doing now.

Here’s a novel idea where years pass measured by Municipal Standard Time.

Councillor Menard … we pay you to make decisions. Staff already knows what the best garbage solution is. Those folks have studied that issue to death.

You’re supposed to make a decision. We pay you good money to make a decision.

So make a decision.

And make sure you are right.

Ken Gray





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11 Responses

  1. The Voter says:

    Oh no, Ken! City Council makes decisions all the time and many of them are garbage. They’re well-practiced at it.

    Just a minute – did you want them to make a non-garbage decision ABOUT garbage? Sorry but I think that would be above their level of functionality. A great idea but just not possible. I have a time and money saving idea though. They can just dust off the staff reports and council decisions from ten, twenty and thirty or more years ago. Why waste time investigating the issue when it’s already been done multiple times with the same result?

    What’s that they call it when you keep doing the same thing over and over but expect a different result? Oh yes – insanity.

  2. Ken Gray says:

    The Voter:

    How could I be so foolish?



  3. Bob says:

    Great article…. and I must add an approach….”Tell It Like It Is and follow-up by DOING IT!

  4. Brocklebank says:

    So the garbage bag tag idea was not successful in Osgoode Township. There are other approaches.
    When I lived in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, each household was issued 52 city garbage bags at the beginning of the year. Only those city bags were collected from homes. If anyone needed more city bags, they were sold at local hardware stores. Even though New Zealanders have easier access to countryside and ditches, there was no noticeable problem of dumping in ditches.
    Why could a similar system not work in Ottawa? (Ken: Here’s your chance for a consulting contract with at flight to New Zealand in January)

  5. Ken Gray says:


    I’ll leave those free flights to the mayor.



  6. Ron Benn says:

    Decision making around the council chamber is an art form. In this instance, Councillor Mendard has announced that council will await a fulsome and complete report from staff on the alternatives and the costs thereof. Sounds prudent … except.

    First and foremost, since when has staff produced a fulsome and complete report? Not just my opinion. Re-read the LRT Commissioner’s report on the failure of staff to provide fulsome reports. Take a look at the city Auditor General’s recent remarks about staff failing to provide council with reports that allow councillors to make informed decisions.

    Not so many months ago, when council was pondering the question of a fleet of electric buses, their conclusion was that they didn’t need to wait for due diligence to be completed. They didn’t need to wait to find out if Hydro Ottawa could supply the electricity needed to charge these buses.

    Is this a ‘we have learned from our mistakes’ moment? Possibly. Or is it just a manifestation of municipal standard politics of ideology.

    For many on council, it is acceptable to make an ideologically based decisions before the facts are in. Especially so when they worry that when the facts become public, their ideologically based decision will be unsupportable for operational and financial reasons. In contrast, if council pushes this non-decision decision out by a year or so, they can hide behind the “we cannot afford the proposed solution”. Not because they can’t afford it (see multiple LRT, Lansdowne 1.0/2.0, central library operational and over budget disasters). No, because an actual decision to do something tangible, and within their actual control, about physical waste is ideologically unacceptable.

  7. Bruce says:

    The GARBAGE issue has been before council sine I believe 2008 and solutions have been offered by many entities some similar to WM and others from private concerns. No council has ever taken the issue seriously enough to actually even bring options before the whole of that body and staff seem to be afraid to look at the problem with a view to finding a real solution.
    We compare LRT and its failures to successes of other cities why not look at how cities in Europe, with limited landfill available, solve or at least try to deal with the problem? A phone call please or a google search, not a 2 year junket all over Europe!

  8. Kosmo says:

    Hey Ken take the free flight and you won’t have to run a marathon to get it.

  9. David says:

    Staff will determine “what makes sense for Ottawa.” Exactly what does City Council do at their meetings?

  10. The Voter says:


    The landfill issue has been on the Council table since well before amalgamation. The last “Great Solution”, Plasco, started operations in Ottawa in 2007 or 2008 and ‘flamed out’ six or seven years later.

    Council/staff regularly clutch their pearls and declare that the Trail Road landfill has but moments until it’s full and a solution must be found ASAP, When they don’t come up with anything permanent, they miraculously come up with a way to extend it for a few more years and happily push the “crisis” down the road several more years.

    Last fall, they approved a scheme to divert up to 60,000 tonnes of garbage from Trail Road to the Carp Road landfill, known locally as the Carp Mountain because it’s already so huge. That has given them another two year extension for Trail Road. Since it will take them more than two years to find the next “solution”, this is a very temporary answer.

  11. The Voter says:

    ** Sorry, I should have mentioned in my last post that the diversion of garbage from the Trail Road landfill to the one on Carp Road, although it was approved last fall, doesn’t take effect until 2026 along with other items in the same report including changing some pick-up schedules to four days a week (Mon-Thurs) instead of five.

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