The Garbage Project – The “Do What I Say Not As I Do” Edition – a peek into City Hall garbage (literally)

April 27, 2016 and another “Garbage Project” post. So let’s start with an update. The City of Red Deer passed the policy to reduce the household limit of garbage from 5 bags to 3 (500L to 300L per week). The blanket policy passed, even though the numbers make no sense. Those championing the policy may feel they have “won”, but the truth is they will never truly reduce garbage going to the landfill until they base the amount allowance proportionately (per occupant of the household) rather than per household. But enough on that for now, we will visit the changing face of Canadian households in another post.

blog city hall

Up until 8:00 pm this evening this post was going to be taking a different direction, and then I went and picked up my son at the library, the library located right next to City Hall.

As I sat in the car I thought “Does City Hall Park have recycle bins?”, followed by “Okay kids, we’re going for a walk.”…….there is only one way to find out, and that is to look. We walked the whole of City Hall Park, and while we found plenty of garbage cans there were no units for the recycling of plastics, paper, organics or refundables. A bit surprising seeing as the City’s new limit is partly because they feel households are not directing items properly for recycling and yard waste.

blog garbage bin city hall

So I continued to walk, coming to the area the gardeners use for tools, incoming plants and such. I see the composters and think “great”. I see the sign on the composters mentioning the “Compost at Home” program, and this is also a good thing. But then you stop to think, why isn’t there a composter for visitors eating lunch in the park to use, for organics like apple cores and banana peels?

blog composters

blog compost sign

Detail of the “Compost at Home” sign.

Now as I took the above picture I noticed a stench, and it wasn’t the composters, it smelled like garbage. It was bad. So I continued walking south down the sidewalk only to find a dumpster.

blog dumpster 3

The dumpster would not have caught my interest except for one thing. Can you spot it, the item that peaked my interest? Top right-hand corner……………the branch.

You see the City of Red Deer has a “yard waste” program which is used to divert yard waste from going in the landfill. Now this dumpster has to have some affiliation to the City of Red Deer as the only destinations on this block are City Hall Park, Red Deer Public Library and City Hall. Everyone connected to these organizations would know about the yard waste program, yet yard waste was visibly sticking out of a dumpster smelling of trash.

Now you all know what happened next…of course you do…..I went in for a closer look (wouldn’t you?!).

blog dumpster 1

And then closer yet!

blog dumpster 2

A quick glance and you can see yard waste (tree branch and grass clippings), recyclable cardboard,  recyclable plastics (coffee cup tops and clear plastic cups), refundable and recyclable bottles, food wrappers and a pair of shoes.

This is a visual of “public” garbage. This is a visual of “commercial” garbage. No separating out of recyclables, refundables or yard waste. Everything is “garbage” when it comes to “public” or “commercial” garbage.

This is garbage maybe 200 feet from City Hall.

The City says the residents need to do more, recycle more, divert recyclables and yard waste from the landfill, but this is what I find in the dumpster at the edge of City Hall Park. The dumpster, at the edge of City Hall Park, shows zero effort to divert waste appropriately from the landfill.

I think at this point we realize the waste reduction policy is a case of “do as I say not as I do”.

blog library

So I carry on around the corner and decide to take a peek into the foyer of the library. I found a container for refundable bottles and cans and a blue bin (I will assume for paper waste from its position). So a little bit better.

blog cans and bottles

blog library blue bin

Of course there is room for improvement remembering that this space shares a cafe. What about recycling for non-refundable plastics (food containers), organics, and a more obvious spot for waste paper and newspaper. Also what about public education? The perfect spot to educate as people at the library are tuned in to reading and learning. After all how many people know what is included in the new expanded recycling program?

And so in one door and out the other (the design of the foyer, literally), and I was in front of the City Hall in seconds.

blog window garbage city hall

I glance up to the window and see….garbage…….A LOT OF GARBAGE.

blog city hall garbage

So much garbage they need a cart to wheel it around.

Is this one day’s worth of garbage, or a week’s worth? It would be interesting to know. However in a building that is essentially an office building that is a lot of garbage.

Let’s think about it. Paper waste should be the bulk of waste in an office building, and that is recyclable. Our city is testing an organics program, so all lunch waste should be taken care of in that manner. Plastics such as bottles and food containers are recyclable , as are cardboards. A city so set on being “green” should have hand driers instead of paper towels in the washrooms, cutting down on washroom waste. So why does City Hall create so much waste?

Why does City Hall create so much waste while blaming households for the filling of the landfill?

Why is the dumpster on the edge of City Hall Park full of recyclable products?

blog city hall cigarettesI descended the steps of City Hall with many thoughts running through my mind, Only to see this…..

blog city hall cigarettes close up

…yes the lids are recyclable, and this is where the workers of City Hall stand daily having their “smoke break”. Not even the garbage could be deposited in the garbage can. Pretty sad.

The pictures speak for themselves. If City Hall wishes to reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill and increase recycling they need to set the example. They aren’t.

Now I am left wondering even more so the intent behind the waste reduction initiative. City Hall, City Hall Park and public buildings should be the poster child of being green. These are the places that are perfect for the education of the public, and the creation of new habits with regards to the management of waste. City Hall, which operates in a similar fashion to a commercial operation such as an office building, should be both an inspiration and a resource to the business sector.

After what I viewed this evening I had a thought, quite a sad thought actually. The thought was ……is the new waste reduction policy a way to place the blame of the quantity of waste going into the landfill on the homeowners in an effort to divert blame from commercial operations such as restaurants, fast food, and cafes? Think about it. Do you ever see paper, cardboard or plastics recycling at any of these places? No, only refundables (because they are worth money!). Have you ever seen organics recycling? Never. Everything goes in the garbage bin. A working couple might eat 11 meals at home during the week creating minimal organic waste, while restaurants feed hundreds daily creating mounds of half eaten food, plastic cups and cardboard and plastic containers.

Looking at the waste management in City Hall Park, in public buildings and in public spaces (such as parks), there is a big disconnect when being considered along the “waste reduction ” policy. The average household output of garbage was already well under the limit, which makes one wonder “what’s the real deal?”, because there is way more to this story than just waste reduction.

And now for this week’s stats:

This week we produced:

2.5 – 75L bags of garbage

blog garbage 1

4-5 buckets of compost (I’ve been making dehydrated fruit resulting in a lot of peels…..that’s what happens when you get apples for $4 a case!)

blog compost 1

2 large bins of recycling (last week’s pic!)

blog recycle 1

……plus refundable cans and bottles but no yard waste

Garbage around the block ( from our romantic midnight walk 🙂 ) , from this week on I will count each house even if no garbage is put out :

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 .5 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L)

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling, 1 garden waste

House 3 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), three garden waste bins, one recycling

House 5 – 2 occupants – 2 garbage cans , half garden waste bin, half recycling bin

House 6 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste (second week running, no bins out after pick up either)

House 7 –  0 occupants – 5 garbage bags (owner is still cleaning up after past renters, huge job)

House 8 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , two recycling bins

House 9 – 1 occupant – 2 garbage bag , four garden waste bins, one recycling

House 10 – 3 occupants – 0 waste (they put out their garbage very late when they get in from work; last week one garbage bin and one yard waste)

House 11 –  7 occupants –  2.5 garbage bags , two large bins of recycling


Stay tuned for next week. Who knows where looking at garbage will take us.









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The Garbage Project – The City Wants To Put MORE In The Landfill?…..when numbers don’t add up

blog compost 1

The more I look into this garbage situation with the City of Red Deer the more interesting it becomes. Now I will admit I find running numbers on projects strangely fascinating, and many a good evening has been spent creating spreadsheets on renovations, builds and business costings. It is interesting. I like to break down things into units, and then multiply by populations to see what the real picture is. I do this with everything……it’s interesting.

Over the last couple of days I have received emails with a bit more information on the garbage situation, and I truly am thankful for these emails. They are helpful.

This blog post is going to be quite short, mostly a “number run”, it is interesting.

But first a little background. We live in the city of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and recently the City of Red Deer has started to work toward passing a policy for “waste limit reduction”. The policy aims to reduce the garbage picked up at the curb from 5 units to 3 units with a unit equaling a 100L garbage bag. This policy is a blanket policy so that no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

Now on with the numbers (2015 census, plus info from Waste Management)…….

Population of Red Deer -100,807

Number of households – 42,034

Average occupancy per household – 2.4 people

Average output of garbage per household – 1.8 units (180 L)

Proposed limit for waste to the landfill – 3 units ( 300L )

Before we get started with the breakdown, I am just going to add a quote from a Waste Management email I received this morning just to give an idea of quantities:

” Thank you for your email. The average Red Deerian household sets out 1.8 units of garbage per week but yes, there are still those that set out four to five units of garbage per week. “

So Lets do the numbers:

Current quantities going into the landfill: 42,034 households x1.8 units = 75,661.2 units per week

Proposed policy to limit waste: 42,034 households x 3 units – 126,102 units per week

The proposed limit to REDUCE landfill waste would actually put, in theory,  50,440.8 MORE units in the landfill, or 5,044,080 L more, if households utilized their full limit allowed.

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

I have had two arguments with this policy, the first that it discriminates against large households.

As I wrote this afternoon in an email to one of our councillors:
“The current average of units per household is 1.8 units. The 3 unit limit only affects large households. I have to know, did the councillors have the 1.8 unit statistic? If they did, it is clear this policy is consciously discriminatory against large households as large output (4 or 5 units as per Waste Management) is an anomaly as are large households. This is smacking of the same mentality as Rachel Notley saying everyone should drive Fiat 500’s…..large families don’t FIT in Fiat 500’s……again discrimination against large families.”

 Let’s break down the average unit produced per average household.
1.8 units (divided by) 2.4 people = .75 units
Under the new policy any household with 4 or less people can continue to produce the same amount of garbage per occupant as they currently produce ( .75 units x 4 occupants = 3 units). Only households of 5 or more occupants are penalized.
If the Council knew of the average of 1.8 units per household, they knew the large outputs were an anomaly, just like large households are an anomaly. This policy then is unfairly targeting large households. It is a discriminatory policy.
You can’t expect major impact by targeting the minority of households.
blog recycle 1
My second argument is that the limits on waste should be proportionate to household size. That everyone is responsible to reduce their own personal waste; everyone should do their equal share. That reduction should be FAIR.
So let’s run the numbers in that scenario:

average household output 1.8 units (divided by) average occupancy of 2.4 people = .75 units (or 75L or 1 regular Glad garbage bag)

(Now just an aside to Councillor Lee, as that amount of 75L cropped up in an email discussion we had regarding potential waste limits and waste limits being proportionate. I didn’t actually have the statistics at the time of the email, but it is interesting how the quantity aligned…I had suggested a system of on regular bag of garbage per occupant per week….75L)

Let’s carry on with the proportionate concept.

If each person was allowed .75 units x 100,807 people = 75,605.25 units per week , 55.95 units LESS than the current situation, or 50,496.75 units less than what the city is proposing.

Is anyone else scratching their heads yet?

blog garbage 1

(gosh, I said this would be short, but it never is….)

Now Waste Management also wrote this:

“When the five unit limit was introduced to Red Deerians in 1999, we saw an increase of 8.4% in recyclable materials in the blue box and 33.7% increase in yard waste collected for composting. We hope to see something similar if the three unit limit is adopted.”

So I think, if we were to assess, the goal is less waste to the landfill, more recycling and yard waste, and eventually organics, diverted from the landfill portion of waste management. Great, a clear direction.

Now realistically, I think the City will only see minor changes in yard waste. Seeing this change is purely down to public education and communicating with the community.

With regards to recycling, again information and communication is key, information and education is grossly lacking, the garbage limit will not solve this. There is a lot the City can do to improve this, the limit isn’t it. (This one might be a future blog post of what should be being done.)

However if the City want to REDUCE what goes in the landfill it is only going to work with a proportionate decrease based on occupancy.

Here is the plan:

1. each year after the census is complete the bag allotment is issued per household for the year
2. the allotment is then divided by 12 for months and added to the monthly City bill information
3. garbage men just take a simple tally of bags per household picking up  – simple tally
4. the tally is fed in when doing monthly billing, any excess is charged out on the City bill
5. any surplus is carried to the next month as a gesture (this could also provide a small buffer if occupancy changes in the dwelling further into the year)
 So let’s say the City wanted to reduce quantities to the landfill by 20%. Based on the current volume going to the landfill it is roughly one 75L garbage bag per person per week. To meet that goal the residents shift their “garbage goal” to 60L per week or one 121L garbage bag every two week (Glad’s “extra large ” bag is 121L….so an easy visual way to work).
If we went with the proportionate system, this is how the numbers pan out.
.60 units x 100,807 people = 60,484.20 units per week compared to the proposed limits which could realistically and without penalty put 126,102 units per week. 65,617.8 units less.
With proportionate limits, and each person producing just 15 L less a week (or 3.75 large milk jugs to use one councillor’s measuring system) the City could actually reduce fairly what reaches the landfill.
Proportionate limits is the only way to fairly reduce waste.
neighbourhood garbage not mine
 It has been quite difficult to get people to understand where I am coming from on this topic of waste limits. Most do not hear what I am saying and think I am “against” reducing waste. I am not against reducing waste, I am against a policy that takes a blanket approach, a policy that penalizes the minority and lets the majority carry on with the same habits even though they are producing more waste per person. Proportionate limits are fair and effective, and easy to implement . It is time for fair and effective policies.
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(We still need to talk recycling and compost, the boat is being missed, but that is a discussion for another day.)
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The Garbage Project – April 20, 2016

blog garbage 1This is week one of tracking our garbage, compost and recyclables. We started this project after the City of Red Deer proposed a change in waste limits, a change where no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

So in order to see what we produce for garbage, recycling and compost we have decided to track for a few weeks what goes out on collection day.

This week we produced:

2 – 75L bags of garbage

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1/3 bucket of compost

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3 large bins of recycling

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……plus refundable cans and bottles plus a significant amount of yard waste

So this is quite interesting coming in at 150L of garbage for a family of seven. I will admit we were out of town one day, and with school interviews and other commitments probably ate dinner out a couple of times which of course put dinner “garbage” in someone else’s bin not ours.

We also decided to walk around the block late this evening to see what others put out.

Garbage around the block:

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 3 – 2 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin, one large bin of recycling

House 5 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

House 6 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

***the rest of the occupied homes had not put garbage out yet

So this is quite interesting, if the City of Red Deer is bringing in new waste restrictions of 300L per week in order to reduce landfill amounts, according to garbage from around our block, exactly the same amount of garbage will reach the landfill as everyone is under the 300L volume. A few more weeks of tracking will give a clearer picture of what people average putting out.

The other thing I kept an eye on was what went in the “garbage”. Wrappers, cellophane, plastic wrap, paper towels, coffee cups, tissues, drier lint, debris from vacuuming. Only one food item, off carrot cake, hit the bin as I watched (seriously how does cake go off in a house with 5 kids?) which again makes me question the panic in BC over food scraps.

Stay tuned for next weeks’ findings. This is quite intriguing.







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The Garbage Project – the background to our family experiment

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

We live in The city of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and recently the City of Red Deer has started to work toward passing a policy for “waste limit reduction”. The policy aims to reduce the garbage picked up at the curb from 5 units to 3 units with a unit equaling a 100L garbage bag.

The city indicates that they took a survey, a survey I was never aware of ( but that is besides the point….but possibly along the same lines as the bike lane survey….and we know how that went!), and 77% (taken from the City’s own press release) of those surveyed supported the initiative.

Now this may seem all well and good until you think about how a “one size fits all” limit on households does not make sense. Take a look at your neighbourhood, take a look at how many small households there are. For example on our block there are 11 households , 10 of which are small households.

Occupancy Per Household On Our Block

0 occupants – 1 (former heroin house)
1 occupant – 2 households
2 occupants – 5 households
3 occupants – 2 households (one multi-generational family, one communal living)
7 occupants – 1 household (ours)

Average this out and the 77% support rate makes sense as it is pretty easy for one or two people to meet the limits, or perhaps a family of three, but this is not the demographic that all Red Deer households are.

I wrote to the Red Deer City Council members voicing my concerns, the email reads:

Concern Over Waste Limit Reduction

April 13, 2016

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to voice my concern over the proposed waste limit reduction.

This proposal victimizes large families, multi-generational families and those who choose to live communally.

This policy is only feasible for small households which explains 77% of residents supporting the proposal. It is easy for 1, 2 or even 4 people to produce only 3 bags of garbage a week. However, how can a large family possibly be expected to live within the same restraints of garbage production as a single person? It is impossible.

Large families are already living more environmentally. Per person we use less fossil fuels for heating and electricity, fewer fossil fuels for travel as we always carpool, we consume less as we share items and use hand-me-downs, and we use less square footage per person for housing as it is 7 people in 1200 sq. feet compared to 1 person for 1200 square feet. We ARE doing our part, but expecting 7 people to produce the same amount of garbage is not feasible.

I think this policy needs to be fair. This policy needs to be based on household size (number of occupants). The city does a census so that they know the number of occupants per home. Base the limits on household size, otherwise you are discriminating against large families, multi-generational families, plus those who choose to live communally for social or economic reasons.

One size fits all makes no sense in this scenario. This proposal needs to be re-evaluated.

The short version is the limit, in my opinion, should be based on occupancy rather than one blanket limit. The city knows how many people are in each household, they take a census. Larger households stop urban sprawl, the city should support larger households rather than penalize them. Our neighbours,  three adult gentlemen, share a house of about 1100 sq. feet, they could easily be occupying 3 separate houses but instead share accommodation. A few houses away is a multi-generational home where again home sharing reduces environmental impact and urban sprawl. Our city should be encouraging larger households such as home sharing and multi-generational housing rather than victimizing it , and putting a blanket limit on garbage victimizes those who are already putting a smaller environmental footprint on our city.

neighbourhood garbage not mine

neighbourhood garbage not mine

Now let me continue. I sent the email to the City Council at 4:28 pm yesterday, and received a phone call from a councillor championing the reduction limits at 4:31pm. The message on the phone was to call him back to “talk me down from the tree”. Tied up with several commitments, my husband called back first and then I was able to join in on the call. While it is nice to have a conversation with an elected member of your municipality, this conversation left me with more doubts and concerns than I had before.

In explaining our concern with regard to household size, and mentioning we are a family of seven, the councillor responded with “you breed like rabbits” (this same councillor has expressed the same thought to me twice previously, it is a bias, not a joke). Well thank you very much for being scathing of our sexual identity, orientation and family values. My husband tried to explain it will also be hard for those sharing homes communally like our neighbours, and the response was to the effect that they wouldn’t care and would just pay the bill………this councillor has NEVER met our neighbours but felt free to make such a judgemental call. There was just no understanding as to the fact that Red Deer has a diverse range of households, in fact there was no respect for the diversity.

…..and then there was the councillor’s suggestion that neighbours should “share” garbage allotments. Yes indeed, after having a heroin house down the block from me (and the councillor truly knows about that house, trust me) why on God’s green earth would I dream of “sharing garbage”….yeah, I want to be implicated in that.

Now this response really made me start to think “What is the policy for a new waste limit really about?” or better “Is this just a typical left wing version of taxation in the disguise of environmentalism?”.….. you see, they allow you to pay $1.00 per extra bag……….

There are a few holes in the City of Red Deer’s garbage/recycling program that leaves me wondering about the true intent.

  1. garbage bags are not a standardized size, who is judge and jury on 300L of garbage?
  2. the City has expanded the recycling program but little information has been sent to households. If this situation was about reducing waste and saving the environment there should be posters and information regarding this in every school, grocery store and public building. Stickers of what can be recycled could be put on our recycle bins on pick-up days. Every time the city sends out an email, Facebook post or tweet there should also be the information and a link. The recycling information should NOT be buried deep in the City of Red Deer website. If they aren’t openly sharing the info and reaching out to the residents of the city, the policy for reduction is just a cash cow.

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Here is the thing, our family is fairly “green” thinking. We compost. We recycle. We line dry clothes in good weather. We grow our own food. We don’t water our grass. We re-use. We use hand-me-downs. We walk to do errands. Our house at approximately 1250 square feet, houses seven people, that is 178.5 square feet per person, we are not the issue with urban sprawl. However even with our green tendencies, I do not believe a one-size-fits-all approach to waste limits makes sense. The limit should be based on household (note, household, not family) size.

Fact of the matter is most garbage comes from non-recyclable food packaging and unnumbered plastics from other consumables; items where consumption increases proportionately to household size. If the answer is a large family has to reduce use, which three kids are to skip a meal so that we produce less packaging “garbage”?

The other flaw in the whole blanket approach is that it is only the vast minority that will need to reduce waste. A single person can still pump out 300L of garbage a week, and they will, they do not have to make any adjustments to their lifestyle. I walk our neighbourhood a lot and often comment on how single people have more garbage bags than us. So small households will continue to pump out garbage at the current rate while larger households have to either alter the way they live or be fined…..because the charge is a fine. If the city wants to reduce the quantity of garbage reaching the landfill they need a policy that makes the majority reduce their production of garbage, and the only way to do that is based on household size. Only when small households are also required to proportionately reduce waste will the policy be fair and effective. If a household of 7 is allowed 300L of garbage per week, that means a household with a single occupant should only be allowed 42.8L per week and anything after that should be fined. That is what is fair. That is what would be effective. Isn’t being left and socialist, like our City Council is, about fairness for ALL? Well it should be about fairness for all. Any other system is simply an unfair cash grab.

The other factor City Council is failing to consider are young families and families with elderly members or family members with health conditions. I will be blunt here, but diapers, baby sized or adult sized, create garbage. If council members have never had children or been hands on with the care of their children they have no idea how much these life stages impact garbage production. Are we also to victimize young families, elderly people, those with health issues? And before we hear the crunchy words “cloth diaper”, let’s see the statistics on the environmental impact they create which includes a lot of electricity and water for washing, nothing is without environmental impact it is just how well you can hide it. I also highly doubt you will find caregivers to change and launder adult cloth diapers.

City Council is blinkered, they have no idea of their population and the diversity of households. Diversity is “not their circus and not their monkeys”; we are all to be 1-4 people living in suburbia with our matching tract houses, and our matching attached garages, and and our matching SUV’s ……basically city council thinks the only families that exist are the ones that exist in emoticons (which maxes out at two adults and two children).  City Council is out of touch. I strongly suggest the members of City Council take the time to get to know their neighbours, and get to know their electorate, rather than simply pass lefty loonie blanket policies because it makes them seem “progressive”. Fact of the matter, it is simply another fee, a cash cow, a way to meet budget in the disguise of being environmentally caring.


So what to do? We’ve decided to embark on a project to get an answer on the feasibility of this policy.

blog garbage compost

Yes, this IS MY compost container. Yeah me!!!

The Project

We have decided as a household to embark on a project tracking our garbage, recycling and compost production for the next few weeks. We are going to track our real production, not an idealized version in one way or another. Throughout the week I will track how many small compost buckets are filled, how many garbage bags we fill, plus our curbside recycling (cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, tin, etc.). Each Tuesday I will document our production with pictures (garbage/recycling day is Wednesday). I have no idea how much we produce, but this is one way to find out.

I invite you to check back next week for the first tally.

I will also share in future posts what we have encountered in other municipalities where we have owned with regards to garbage, recycling and how residents respond to “difficult” policies regarding garbage.


And just for those interested in what the City of Red Deer offers regarding garbage and recycling, here is the LINK. (I get a LOT of emails asking for information and opinions on Red Deer and what  Red Deer is “really like” so adding links helps the readers! 🙂 )









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A New Bridge For The Park (Red Deer, Alberta)

We had excitement in our neighbourhood today, a new bridge was installed just around the corner from home. Of course having a five year old boy who is intrigued with construction, we just had to check it out.

blog bridge 1Its always fun to take a look at the diggers, what they are up to and what they have done.

blog bridge 2As we neared the bridge we were pleasantly surprised by the choice of style. A nod to modern while keeping the traditional white of the bridge that has been located at this spot for decades.

blog bridge 4Whoever chose the final decision for the bridge has made a great design choice. It looks beautiful, but also has higher railings and closer together slats which making crossing with children a little bit safer.

blog bridge 3The slight curve to the bridge is going to add a bit more fun for those riding bikes in the park too. (Note to self: remind the kids to slow down!)

blog bridge 5We are pretty thrilled with this new improvement to our neighbourhood. This bridge we walk over everyday. Now it isn’t just functional, but also quite a nice design to look at.


(iPhone photography by Debra Hunter)






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Reflections and Thoughts

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canadaIt seems like it has been ages since I have done a proper post on this blog. Life has been busy and a bit out of sync being the first year we have been without the cabin. Being in town all the time has been an adjustment, especially for myself as when you work for yourself it has meant this year has felt like I haven’t had a weekend. Getting away to the cabin was the only way to differentiate weekdays from weekends. We were unplugged there. It was down time. We were able to recharge ourselves. We have discovered when we are at “home” (and on the coast), mostly we just “work”.

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canadaThere have been a few benefits to a year mostly spent in the city. Children have been able to attend birthday parties and spend time at the outdoor pool. The vintage garage is getting its overhaul and being transformed into a workshop. We also spent a bit of time rediscovering parts of the city that we usually visit mostly in the winter.

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canadaWe’ve tried a few urban activities like attending the Saturday Market, however the places we return to are always ones of nature. It explains why we have missed the cabin so much.

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canadaWe have spent many days and evenings out walking over the spring, summer and fall. Barrett Park, Coronation Park, Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary and Mackenzie Trails have all been favorites. We are lucky to live in a city with an expansive trail and natural area system. We can literally be in a tree canopied park next to a babbling creek 100 meters from our front door.

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canadaSunday, the day these fall images were taken, was another day of local exploration. This time at MacKenzie Trails. We were treated to Canadian geese, fall leaves, bright red rosehips, raindrops, and mud. We walked, we took pictures, and the kids played catch. It might not be a weekend at the cabin, but we embraced the beauty that exists not far from our front door.

mackenzie trails, red deer, alberta, canada

Photography by Debra Hunter
Hunter Photographics

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Red Deer Westerner Days Parade – Realm of Thieving White Trash

Three of our children pointing to dirt left behind from the theft of our planter that was stolen by an attendee of the Red Deer Westerner Parade.

Three of our children pointing to dirt left behind from the theft of our planter that was stolen by an attendee of the Red Deer Westerner Parade.

The Red Deer Westerner Parade is the dreaded event of the year in our neighbourhood. Our neighbourhood, yes the area where people actually live, is infested each year by disrespectful parade goers. People park in our driveways, across our driveways, and on our lawns. They box us in so we cannot get out of our parking spots. They leave their garbage behind and walk all over our yards. The traffic jam leaving our neighbourhood this year took 30-45 minutes to clear. Our neighbourhood is used as a parking lot, yet has very few exit routes; if there had been an emergency it would be an absolute disaster. This is a yearly occurrence that I have witnessed for over two decades. It is truly awful.

What is even worse is that our whole neighbourhood is subjected to this horror all in the name of commercialism. The Red Deer Westerner Parade is nothing but a walking billboard and a way to push the people of Red Deer to attend the Westerner so that the Westerner can of course make a lot of money . Three years ago was the last time we went. We lasted 15 minutes. All the parade consisted of were ads. Junk mail on wheels…..mixed with an atmosphere of gagging smoke and f-bombs in the crowd. Classy. Well actually pretty reflective of present day Red Deer if we are to be honest.

This is the crowd that is dropped on our Woodlea neighbourhood , a place where people actually LIVE, each year. But our neighbourhood doesn’t count, it never counts, the City, or the Westerner organization would never dream of running a parade adjacent to the heavenly blessed areas known as suburbia, but destroying our neighbourhood is fine.They simply don’t care about how this parade impacts our properties and our lives.

Our children standing in front of the mate to the planter that was stolen during the Red Deer Westerner Parade by a parade goer.

Our children standing in front of the mate to the planter that was stolen during the Red Deer Westerner Parade by a parade goer.

For years the  Red Deer Westerner Parade has made no sense. The Westerner grounds moved from the center of downtown in 1982, 33 years ago, but they did not move the Westerner parade. Prior to the 1980’s the parade used to form at the old fair grounds located in Parkvale (an area in the downtown area), snake through downtown, then return to the fairgrounds. At that time it somewhat made sense. 33 years later the Westerner is miles and miles away, there is NO connection to the downtown area, and they are still forming the parade in the same spot….well kind of… is now in front of the arena, skateboard park and tennis bubble, and behind a seniors housing complex that was built on the old fairgrounds (three decades ago). The parade route, we noticed, has shrunk over the years, probably to accommodate traffic and downtown businesses. Clearly the concept of the parade no longer fits current day downtown Red Deer. Traffic and businesses count, they can’t be inconvenienced. They are special. Neighbourhoods where people live DON’T count. The parade route has been altered for these reasons, yet they continue to leave the route impacting our neighbourhood and our home.

How pathetic of a human being do you have to be to steal a planter of vegetables? Scum human being or typical resident of Red Deer, Alberta?

How pathetic of a human being do you have to be to steal a planter of vegetables? Scum human being or typical resident of Red Deer, Alberta?

This year, however, has topped other years. This year we actually had property STOLEN by parade goers. The planter was there before the parade, the planter was gone after the parade. We had a planter stolen. A planter that measured 16 inches across, 14 inches high and full of soaking wet soil. This was a planter at the side of our house. The dirt from moving the planter is still on the sidewalk. This was a planter that would have taken considerable strength to move and take space in a vehicle as well. This is a deliberate theft. The parade goer trespassed and stole.

This was an ordinary planter, but was full of a tomato and lettuce that we started from seed back in February. Our children watched it grow. Watered it. Cared for it. Hoped to eat it. Now it is gone. Stolen.

The Westerner doesn’t care.

The City of Red Deer doesn’t care.

They don’t care what happens to our neighbourhood, our home or our property. As long as the Westerner and the City of Red Deer can financially capitalize on events such as the Westerner Parade they simply don’t care what happens in our neighbourhood.

They are greedy, selfish and don’t care.

Why is is ALWAYS the historic neighbourhoods that are horribly disrespected? Why don’t we count? They would NEVER dream of doing this to suburbia. Inflicting situations like this on our RESIDENTIAL neighbourhood is simply unfair. Inflicting situations on a neighbourhood that encourage thefts is unfair. It is time things change. Our neighbourhood IS a neighbourhood. This is where we LIVE. It is time we get the same respect that other areas of the city receive. It is time to change the parade route and keep the thieving white trash out of our neighbourhood. After all, nowhere else in the city is expected to endure this level of invasion and disrespect.


Cleaning Up The Park – A “Green Deer” Event

park clean up

Saturday was a dull and windy day, but even the weather didn’t deter a group of our neighbours from taking part in an organized clean up of the Woodlea Park. Thanks to Peter McGee who organized the event, 20-30 people showed up to pick up trash and make the park once again clean.

park clean up The whole park was cleaned up from end to end, into the woods and up the toboggan hill.

The woods were particularly disgusting. It appears the high school students from the school across the street feel it is perfectly acceptable to throw all their lunch garbage into the woods by our homes. We collected garbage bag full after garbage bag full of food wrappers and fast food containers. This was really unimpressive.

park clean up The parking lot was also tackled as there was a ton of garbage lying around in this area.

park clean up We found a ton of garbage under this tree, literally a pile. Under the pile of garbage we found a mangled fence. My husband noticed the tag on it and said “Let’s lift it up and maybe it says who it belongs to….”

park clean up Ironic, huh?

park clean up We finished leaving behind a better and cleaner park.

park clean up We filled up bags and bags with garbage. There was a huge amount of trash. It is pretty unacceptable that people still think that in this era of environmental awareness that it is okay to litter.

blog clean up 4Here is the great group of people who took time out of their busy lives to make our neighbourhood a better place. Well done everyone! The park looks great.


If you are interested in participating in “Green Deer” and leaving Red Deer better than you found it the link to the City of Red Deer’s information can be found HERE.


I was in the press again this week.

This is not a rant. Before you discard this post as being a specific municipal matter, take a look at what happened. It could happen so easily right next to your home.

blog newspaper article full cropped

A few of you probably wondered just what was going on in my post of February 20, 2014. You would not believe what the last week has entailed. The story is worth reading. It is something that could happen in any municipality. Think of it as a cautionary tale.

The best thing to come from it is we had the opportunity to meet and band together with some really great neighbors. Some that we knew for years and some that we met only a few days ago. There is strength in community.

The whole article can be read at , but I will also paste the article here in sections.

blog newspaper column 1blog newspaper column 2blog newspaper column 3blog newspaper column 4

42…or art imitating life at the moment

42……the meaning of life, the universe and everything

……….I always love it when I get a YouTube clip that sums up my last few days dealing with our city’s planning department

Anyone got a towel  !!!!!!???

(you’ll have to read the book to get the reference)


(pre-game stretch)