Comparing composting around the Hills
Val-des-Monts keeps it close to home
Paugan Falls senior apartment building president Leith Egan said he’s concerned about the door-to-door compost collection program that’s ramping up in Low and throughout the rest of the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau.
Egan said her 10-apartment building in Low already has a garbage bin and recycling bin for each unit and the addition of 10 more brown bins for compost will all-but-overwhelm the parking lot.
“We do our own composting. We don’t have to have the municipality going around dragging all those bins,” Egan said.
She said she and her residents have been throwing away organic matter into a composter that is used for the building’s garden and would probably continue to do so.
To add to her concerns, Egan also said she worries about whether or not her residents will be able to safely take their compost bins to the curb during icy winter months.
She added that she is also troubled by the rollout of the MRC’s program.
“All of the literature is in French and they won’t translate it,” said Egan, noting that some of her residents only speak English.
Some of the only information available in English on the program has been printed as advertisements from the MRC in this newspaper.
Earlier this year Low residents brought their concerns about the fact that no consultation on the compost collection program was held in English. A promised English-language compost consultation fell by the wayside in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic and so far none has taken place nor been announced.
In November the Low council drafted a resolution in opposition to the MRC’s compost program, citing the municipality being unprepared to budget for an entire other collection route for compost.
“I guess there’s not much anybody can do. I guess long ago somebody should’ve said something,” Egan said.
In July, the La Pêche council voted to spend $256,178 on buying and delivering brown compost bins for its collection program.
La Pêche communications agent Evelyne Kayoungha said the bins will be distributed in November 2021 and the collections will start in January 2022.
With the municipality of La Pêche and the MRC up the line both looking to start compost collection programs in the near future, The Low Down thought it would be a good idea to check in to see how Chelsea and Cantley’s programs are going.
Chelsea and Cantley
In late-2018 Chelsea, Cantley and the municipality of Pontiac announced their compost collections programs. Mayors said the programs have been going well, but not without hiccups.
“The MRC [des Collines] said that the expectation in terms of tonnage has been exceeded in Chelsea,” Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green said.
The 469 tonnes of compost collected in Chelsea was “excellent quality” Green said, meaning that all of the compost collected in Chelsea went to the composting facility. This wasn’t always the case for Cantley composting.
“We know there is a problem and some loads were refused because of the quality. Too much plastic,” Cantley Mayor Madeleine Brunette explained.
But programs used to educate Cantley residents about what can and can’t go into the compost bin have had an effect and Brunette said she hopes Cantley’s compost quality continues to improve.
MRC des Collines territorial management and programs department deputy director general said Cantley collected 596 tonnes of compost in 2019 and that the MRC aims to have over 95 per cent of compost loads at “adequate quality” by the end of 2021.
Instead of implementing a compost collection program like Chelsea and Cantley have and La Pêche and the MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau will have, Val-des-Monts is leaving it to the citizens to compost at home, Val-des-Monts Mayor Jacques Laurin said.
Val-des-Monts’ home composting program rolled out in 2018 with 6,500 composting bins that can be set up in peoples’ yards being sold at about $40 a pop to residents.
During the first year of the program, there was about 710 metric tonnes less garbage collected and taken to the dump, Laurin said.
“I was pretty proud of that,” he added.
Around 73 per cent of households in Val-des-Monts have reduced the amount of waste put at the curb thanks to this compost program, Laurin explained.
“It’s just incredible the amount of gas emissions you save,” he said, referring to the fact that this composting program doesn’t require large vehicles to drive around collecting compost.
Aside from reducing emissions, the home composting program reduces cost for the municipality. It doesn’t have to pay for a truck and truck driver to drive a collection route nor pay to dump it.