Trash talking

For some, the one bag bylaw has meant finding new means of eliminating waste

The one garbage bag bylaw has posed a challenge for students dealing with garbage illegally dumped on their properties.
The one garbage bag bylaw has posed a challenge for students dealing with garbage illegally dumped on their properties.
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As some students learn to adjust to the city’s new one garbage bag limit, others are struggling to conform to the bylaw.

The bylaw came into effect on Sept. 10 and states that any home with access to a green bin can only put out one untagged bag for pick-up; additional tags can be purchased at 17 spots around the city, including the AMS office. Residents were previously allowed to put out two untagged bags per household.

Chelsey Wilson, Comm ’14, lives in an apartment with three other people, and theirs is one of three units in the building. Despite this, Wilson said only one garbage bag total was picked up from their property last week, rather than one for each unit.

“We did our job, we put out only one bag,” Wilson said. “The rest is our landlord’s job.”

Derek Ochej, Public Education and Promotion Coordinator for the City of Kingston, said homes with multiple units are pointed out to garbage collectors, who then pick up the appropriate number of bags from each building.

Ochej said, however, that this only applies to legal apartments, while property owners who don’t pay taxes for multiple units will not be recognized as such.

“We run into that issue across the city, not just the student area,” Ochej said, adding that a common example is landlords who don’t ensure their basement apartments are legal. Ochej said the supply of 400 tags that the city provided to the AMS were sold out within days.

According to the AMS, they’ve sold over 650 bag tags so far, with most students buying 15 or 20 tags at a time.

Some households struggling with the bylaw have resorted to disposing of their garbage in privately-owned dumpsters or on the street.

One representative of Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) said school officials have noticed an increase in garbage left in their dumpsters, but added that they’re not sure whether it’s directly related to the bylaw or simply a result of move in time and the start of the school year.

A custodian at KCVI, who asked not to be named, said illegal dumping “has been a problem,” but that he can’t comment on the situation.

Greg McLean, policy and program coordinator for licencing and enforcement with the city, said there have been 12 recorded illegal dumping infractions since Sept. 10, the exact same amount as last year at this time. McLean said the illegal dumping would likely have taken place on both private and city-owned property, the former of which is complaint-driven.

“We can take that to mean at least in these early stages of the new one bag limit policy that we have not seen any increase in reports of garbage being illegally dumped,” he said, adding that the infractions could be related to move in time for students and the start of school.

McLean said both this year and last the most infractions occurred around Calderwood Dr. (near St. Lawrence College) and only one was within the vicinity of Queen’s this year.

Sometimes, the infractions can be a challenge to investigate.

“We’ll look through the garbage and look for any identification that may be in there that would give us a lead to follow, and in some cases that has proven to be useful in indentifying the party responsible,” he said.

In Kingston, illegal dumping can carry a penalty of up to $5,000.

When Spencer Sankersingh, CompSci ’11, moved into his student house in Sept., 15 bags of trash were left at his house by the previous tenant, which he and his housemates aimed to get rid of by putting out one of the bags each week.

“That meant our personal garbage wouldn’t have anywhere to go. So we decided to take the left over garbage from the previous tenants to a dumpster on campus,” he told the Journal via email. “We found a dumpster with a [Physical Plant Services] truck next to it on campus, and asked the guy if we could use the dumpster.”

Apparently, they were left over from move in week and it was [legal] for us to dump our extra garbage there,” he added.

Sankersingh said while he understands “the need to cut down waste,” he thinks the garbage bag restriction is impractical during the first couple weeks when students are moving in.

“I know of many students who are now risking fines to get rid of their move in garbage that in most cases wasn’t even generated by them,” he said. “I also know of students who are going around spreading garbage amongst their neighbours since they’ve exceeded the one bag limit.”

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