The Town of Hay River’s spring clean-up efforts completed their third week on June 7 with crews finishing brush clearing in Delancey Estates and Paradise Valley.
“We never anticipated it would only take one week,” said Dustin Dewar, a civil technologist with the town’s department of public works. “We always thought it would be more like two or three, but the sheer amount of stuff we’re picking up is a bit unexpected.”
Dewar blames a harsh winter with greater-than-average snowfall and strong winds for causing more debris to be collected, but also noted residents seem to have been saving up in the three years since the town last embarked on a clean-up campaign of this scale.
“I think it has been an overall success,” he said. “There was a build-up of stuff over the last few years, but we got rid of a lot of it and the town is looking really good.”
A crew of 10 public works employees spent the better part of three weeks making their way through neighbourhoods in an effort that proved popular with residents.
However, Dewar said there were a few problems he would prefer not see repeated in coming years.
“We’ve had a bit of a problem with commercial enterprises using the service as a means to get rid of commercial waste,” he said. “That’s not really the intent and it feels like certain people have taken advantage of it, and that’s why we had to scale back in recent years.”
At a public works committee meeting on June 3, public works director Keith Morrison confirmed the clean-up process was within the $10,000 budget allocated by the town and said that, if more funds are required, he would come back to council “hat in hand” asking for it, although he did not anticipate doing so.
Morrison also expressed concern with home-based businesses potentially abusing the system, but maintained the town workers themselves should not be put in the position of deciding what to carry away and what to leave at the curb.
“It’s always a struggle to be efficient,” he told town council. “When it comes to commercial versus residential waste, we don’t ask workers to make those decisions.”
Some of the other common issues Dewar mentioned were the disposal of household waste along with larger items, like tree branches and appliances, and the unsorted nature of the piles residents created at their curbs.
“The problem with the household garbage is that it was sitting there rotting in the sun for a week or two, and that makes it really unpleasant for those picking it up,” he said.
As for the lumping of all kinds of waste together in one pile, Dewar said it slowed down the process because it meant trucks could not make several efficient passes, picking up one type of waste and bringing it to the dump, but instead had to do it all at once and sort it themselves.
Overall, however, he considered this year’s clean-up a success.
“We can’t just make the waste disappear,” he said. “But doing it this way allows us to keep more of it out of landfills.”
Some of the collected material is recycled, while some of it is burned.
— Sarah Ladik