Eliminating the free dump week in Wetaskiwin not a viable solution

Eliminating the free dump week in Wetaskiwin not a viable solution

Writer says decision means city can’t attain 90 per cent diversion

Dear editor,

Soon there will be many signs it’s spring in Wetaskiwin. The snow has finally melted. Birds are beginning to bring their cheerful songs back into the community, geese and other water fowl are returning to By-the-Lake Park and green grass is seeking sunlight from under the brown mat of last year’s growth.

Driving through the city, people are busy in their yards raking up dead grass, picking up stray garbage that has made its way to their yard over the winter, trimming trees, cleaning out flowerbeds and all the other activities they envision will make their homes a place they can be proud of for another summer.

Hard, dirty work but no complaints – just work that creates a feeling of pride, happiness and contentment.

Looking around their yards, residents see other items that have once again, accumulated behind the garage and in the back alley; the broken chair, soiled mattress, dirty old rags, watering pail that is rusting away. And like every year for the past several years, residents are motivated to clean up this unsightly mess and join a multitude of others on a trip to the free dump week.


City of Wetaskiwin: “We will no longer be offering a free dump week at the landfill in order to strive toward our goal of a 90 per cent diversion rate.”

You look at the pile of junk wondering, why? Remember the long line up of trucks, trailers, vans and even cars all voluntarily committed to hauling junk out of the city to the landfill during the free dump week. As the long caravan proceeds to the landfill scale, the look on the faces tell an important story. Tired maybe, dirty maybe, a little impatient, maybe. But the faces show an underlying feeling of pride and contentment knowing they were contributing to the beauty of their property and the city in general.

So again, what is the driving force threatening to eliminate the free dump week. The claim is:

City of Wetaskiwin: “As part of our commitment to sustainability, we will no longer be offering free dump week at the landfill. We continue to strive toward our goal of a 90 per cent landfill diversion rate in order to extend its life as long as possible.”

Intuitively, it seemed unrealistic to expect a diversion program could convert 90 per cent of the traditional garbage and junk. And, since it was going to cost me more money over and above my growing taxes and user fees, I searched for quantifying data and found an explanation in Wikipedia. A summary of a variety of resources states the U.S. national diversion rate is 33.8 per cent and the most effective city, San Francisco is 77 per cent.


Waste diversion or landfill diversion is the process of diverting waste from landfills. The success of landfill diversion can be measured by comparison of the size of the landfill from one year to the next. If the landfill grows minimally or remains the same, then policies covering landfill diversion are successful. For example, currently in the United States there are 3,000 landfills.[1] A measure of the success of landfill diversion would be if that number remains the same or is reduced. In 2009, it was recorded that the national average of landfill diversion in the United States was 33.8 per cent, while San Francisco had implemented the most effective policies and had recorded a landfill diversion rate of 77 per cent.[2] By diverting landfills we can preserve our natural resources.[3]

The City of Wetaskiwin has spent millions of taxpayer dollars attempting to beautify the city with a new Main Street, Diamond Jubilee Park project, etc. Supporting residents by providing a fee-free garbage dump week is an inexpensive, yet effective means of removing unsightly garbage and enhancing the overall cleanliness and beauty of the city.

So I re-state, eliminating the free dump week in Wetaskiwin not a viable solution to landfill diversion. Give the residents a break.

This is one person’s thoughts. What are yours?

Barry McDonald

Wetaskiwin, AB