media initiatives

Make Saturday, March 10th a Turning Point in Hamilton's Political Landscape

Jim Sweetman is a volunteer member of the citizen-led Waste Reduction Task Force.

March 1st, 2012

I am disappointed with the defeat of the proposal for bi-weekly, one-container per week garbage collection at last week’s General Issues Committee (GIC) meeting. We will all pay more taxes and suffer more trucks in our neigbourhoods than needed or necessary.

As disappointed as I am with what happened, I am more concerned with how it happened.

I do want to express my respect for Councillors Powers and Collins for their initiative and effort in working to develop a compromise to the very backward motion put forward by Councillors Whitehead and Jackson. But to achieve a compromise they took an open and public discussion into closed and private places. At last week’s GIC, most of the Councillors referenced the many private discussions that were held since the last public meeting. The defeat of the bi-weekly, one-container per week garbage collection was obvious to me shortly after the first Councillor began speaking.

In my opinion there was no meaningful debate at the GIC after Dr. Lynda Lukasik’s presentation in support of bi-weekly one-container garbage collection. While none of the Councillors shared any numbers or names, they referred to the many phone calls and emails they received against bi-weekly, one-container per week garbage collection. One Councillor made a point of telling everyone he had received an opposing email as he spoke. One Councillor suggested the 98% compliance with the one-container limit is not real. Without any data, he implied many of us are putting our extra containers at our neighbour’s house or dumping them illegally. One Councillor said the lower-city lots were too small, unlike the suburban lots, to store two week’s worth of pet waste. One Councillor wants to help those who are struggling with meeting the one-container limit. He did not offer to pass their names along to City staff who could help them stop struggling however. I wondered what he would do if people were struggling to pay their taxes or follow the traffic laws? One Councillor suggested other communities with bi-weekly collection are falsely reporting their diversion rates. Yet another Councillor had talked to someone in Burlington who did not like their bi-weekly garbage collection.

To their credit, Councillors Johnson and McHattie stated they understood and respected the public information and public opinion. They spoke of values and principles and why Council needed to continue to encourage waste minimization and improve diversion.

Councillor Ferguson reported that City staff had come to his public, volunteer Community Council and presented the same information previously shown to Public Works and Councillors. After the presentation, his Community Council voted 11-1 in support of the bi-weekly, one-container per week garbage collection. Councillor Ferguson said that he respected their opinion and as their elected representative, he would vote as they expected.

Over the past few months, City staff made numerous presentations in a number of public meetings to Councillors detailing the facts around the bi-weekly one-container per week garbage collection. Members of the Flamborough Community Council, after seeing the same Staff presentation at their public meeting, made a presentation in support of the bi-weekly one container per week garbage collection at Public Works. The citizen-led Waste Reduction Task Force, who met monthly to review the same information in detail and advise City Staff and the Solid Waste Management Master Plan Steering Committee, made presentations at Public Works in support. Environment Hamilton, with the encouragement of their membership, made a presentation at Public Works in support. The Hamilton Civic League, after collecting a petition from their members, made a presentation at Public Works in support. 

But in the end, the considerable amount of public information and public support of bi-weekly one-container per week garbage collection could not overcome the private information and personal opinion of most of the Councillors.

I was most impressed with Councillor Ferguson’s contribution to the discussion. I think Councillor Ferguson’s use of his Community Council has shown everyone an alternative to the closed, private and special-interest-driven decision-making in our city. I think the reason so few people vote every four years is because they can only vote every four years. We need to be able to vote on current issues. I think the every-four-year elections for Council are popularity based, not issue based. We are facing major decisions on the major topics of light rail transit, renewable energy, incineration and Aerotropolis’ urban boundary expansion. Do we want these decisions made the same way the garbage collection decision was made? Does your Councillor have a Community Council? If not, why not? Why do we not have city-wide referendums on major issues?

We cannot continue to do things the same way in our city and expect different results. It’s time we got mad as hell. It’s time we did something about it.

Jim Sweetman, Dundas

Hamilton City Council overruled City Staff, ignored Waste Reduction Task Force recommendations and dismissed numerous delegations when they rejected biweekly garbage collection. City Council’s decision will cost us $10,000,000.00. How do you feel about City Hall wasting your money?

Please forward the invoice below to all Councillors and the Mayor. Consider adding your contacts to the BCC field so they can also forward the invoice to City Hall. It is EXTREMELY important to follow up with a phone call, so Let’s Call City Hall (905-546-2489) to collect our $10,000,000.00 today.

 The garbage collection contract has not yet been signed, so there is a brief window of opportunity for everyone to take action to save our City $10,000,000.00. You are invited to join residents from Flamborough to Stoney Creek at Hamilton City Hall on Saturday, March 10th at noon. BYOB, Bring Your Own EMPTY Garbage Bag to City Hall where we will fill them up with air to illustrate exactly what our $10,000,000.00 will be collecting on a weekly basis. If you have a cell phone, please bring it with you. Together we can make Saturday March 10th a turning point in Hamilton’s political landscape. 

We Hamiltonians

From Flamborough to Stoney Creek


Sold To: Hamilton City Council, 71 Main St. W., Hamilton ON L8R1P8


Terms: Pay upon receipt or on Election Day 2014

Date: March  4th, 2012 Invoice #: 10,000,000

Council’s decision to overrule City Staff recommendations and to reject a biweekly garbage collection schedule.

Council’s decision to ignore our Waste Reduction Task Force’s recommendations and to dismiss numerous delegations supporting a biweekly garbage collection schedule.



Subtotal $10,000,000.00
HST $1,300,000.00
Total $11,300,000.00

Let’s tell City Hall to stop wasting our money. Recycling and green bin collection will continue weekly but Let’s Call City Hall to tell our Councillors to adopt biweekly garbage collection to save taxpayers $10,000,000.00.

Call 905-546-CITY (2489) during regular business hours. (Monday to Friday, 8 am to 4 pm).

Call 905-546-2730 outside regular business hours. (Councillors’ reception).

You can also tweet “Biweekly garbage collection saves $10,000,000.00! Don’t waste our money on garbage! LetsCallCityHall” to individual Councillors.

Join / re-join the Hamilton Civic League to guarantee receipt of future updates and please forward this email to extend our invitation of free 2012 membership to your family and friends.

Best regards,

Larry Pomerantz

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