The candidates' forum for the upcoming civic election went pretty much as expected.
The issues that were expected to be at the forefront – roads and other infrastructure woes, health care, physician recruitment, housing, financial planning, speed limits, the truck route, long-term planning and community engagement – were discussed at length. The candidates that one would expect would be most comfortable in a debate setting were the ones who thrived.
But one issue was rarely mentioned. And it needs to be implemented by Council in the next four years: curbside recycling.
It's not a flashy issue. It's not as costly as a new fire hall or a new water reservoir. It's not as pricey as a rebuild of Souris Avenue, or repairs to King Street, Kensington Avenue North and Fifth Street. It's not as divisive as the speed limit issue.
It's a late 20th century concept that makes perfect sense, would be relatively easy to implement, and has been occasionally thrust into the public spotlight in the last few years. Outgoing Mayor Gary St. Onge has been a proponent of curbside recycling for years, and even suggested a pilot project for the northwest corner of the city.
Unfortunately, it remained just a concept.
It is asinine that a community the size of Estevan doesn't have curbside recycling in the 21st century. It's nice that there is a recycling depot in the heart of the community where people can jettison their cardboard, newspapers, magazines and other items. But a concept like that is outdated for Estevan. The modern approach is for people to be able to have containers at their home that they place in front of their residence once a week.
Other communities in the southeast now have curbside recycling. Maybe it's easier for small towns to implement such a program, since they don't have as many expenses as a small city. But it is frustrating for curbside recycling supporters to see it available in towns and villages.
Curbside recycling will likely be discussed next year, when Estevan's residential waste disposal contract expires. There'll likely be an option in the tender that will include curbside recycling. Hopefully it will be affordable, and that it will be implemented in mid-2013.
The next Council, and other municipal governments, have to lobby the provincial government to fund curbside recycling programs. It's a service that should be in every community in the province; in fact, it should have been in every community in the province 15 years ago. For that to happen, the provincial government needs to step forward with the requisite funding.
Estevan needs this valuable service, regardless of whether the provincial government insists on dragging its heels on an environmentally beneficial program that will reduce the amount of waste in our landfills.