Langley City could have done better on composting

City single-family homeowners face decreased service and increased costs, while the City ignores what other cities are doing.

Editor: Regarding the green bin program in the City of Langley and Rae-Lynne Dicks’ (The Times, Jan. 3) letter to the editor. I have been a backyard composter for 32 years and for decades have used bi-weekly garbage pick up.

I was anticipating a green waste program which included the delivery of a wheeled green bin, a kitchen catcher with compostable liners and a choice of garbage can sizes that would allow me to reduce the garbage fee on my property taxes. For example, the City of Victoria gave their single-family residential property taxpayers options on the size of their garbage cans, $168 for 80 litres, $183 for 120 litres and $204 for 180 litres.

Many municipalities paid for the bins with reserve funds, and decreased tipping fees due to bi-weekly garbage collection. North Vancouver provides a backyard composting program which includes (www.northshorerecycles.ca) information on composter sales, composting 101, worm composting, sheet mulching and composting coaching, meaning a staffer comes to your residence and assists you with your composting needs.

We have great staff working for the City of Langley and all of these programs could have been implemented, but the City of Langley has a contract with a garbage company who has refused to upgrade their vehicles to accommodate wheeled bins.

Instead the costs (new bins) have been passed onto the homeowners, with no corresponding decrease to our property taxes or comprehensive backyard composting program.

Further research, including speaking to Metro Vancouver waste management, revealed that a U.S. company called Harvest Power owns and operates the Fraser Richmond soil and fibre plant, which is where the green waste is composted. The composting generates gas which in turn generates electricity that is sold to B.C. Hydro.

The composted material is sold to a company called The Answer Garden Products in Abbotsford. This is where homeowners can buy back their green waste for $30/cubic metre.

My concern is that other municipalities have been able to offer rewards to their property owners, thereby helping to ensure a level of compliance. But there are no rewards for single family homeowners and property taxpayers in the City of Langley. There are no free bins, no reduced property taxes, no B.C. Hydro rebate, no backyard composting program, no how to make a newspaper liner for the kitchen catcher, not even a free bag of lawn compost.

In closing, the City of Langley has won awards for its Master Plans and beautiful gardens. We can do better and the City can do better.

It begins by cancelling the contract with a garbage company which has failed to meet the standards for green waste in 2013. Their failure to upgrade has decreased the impact the homeowners of Langley could have had on the City of Langley’s carbon and environmental footprints.

One final sidebar. To every resident who has had their garbage can lids go missing, your lids and at least four of mine have gone to the landfill, where they will never bother a garbage collector again.

Marie Phillips,

Langley