New leaf fee leaves some frustrated

Saint Lazare residents from the Cedarbrook development were left with nowhere to dispose of their leaves when the town cancelled one collection last year. (File photo: Kristina Edson)

Saint Lazare ‘incentive’ begins soon

When Saint Lazare residents begin the annual spring yard cleanup in the coming weeks, those wanting to bag natural waste such as dead leaves and plants will now have to pay to have them carted away.

The town’s council voted last week to adopt a new fee based “incentive” obliging those living within the urban perimeter and the Green Maple area to pay a $25 fee to have a maximum 50 paper bags collected. The new policy will include three collections this year: May 20, Oct. 28 and Nov. 18. Each collection will cost users the $25 fee. The move is a further effort to encourage homeowners to make environmentally responsible changes, said Geneviève Hamel, Saint Lazare’s Director of Communications, who noted that dead leaves and other green waste can be used to benefit many parts of a yard. “Our main objective is to educated people about the importance of keeping as many leaves as possible on their property,” she said. The town has posted how-to videos on its YouTube chanel explaining the processes as well as the benefits of allowing leaves to decompose in backyard composting bins, or mulching them with a lawnmower. Hamel said the idea for the new policy came from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which has introduced incentive fees to reduce household waste across the country. “We thought instead of garbage we’d try it with leaves and green residue,” Hamel explained.

 Better solution

But Saint Lazare resident Greg Quenneville said the new policy will leave him with few options. Quenneville, who has lived in Saint Lazare for the past 15 years, resides in the Cedarbrook neighbourhood that is well known for its high number of mature pine trees. “I can’t compost my leaves because 80-percent of what I cleanup is pine needles that kill the grass and don’t breakdown,” Quenneville noted. He said he fills about100 bags in the fall and another 20 in the spring. Purchasing the approved bags costs him close to $100. “I’m fed up with always paying,” he said, “And now I have to pay $25 to get rid of 50 bags so that doesn’t do me any good.” Town officials, who have been monitoring social media websites, say they’re aware of the challenges in areas with a plethora of pine trees. “They do have a point,” Hamel said, adding, residents are encouraged to communicate such concerns to the town so the council can decide if “they have anything to improve with the policy.” According to Hamel, an average 3,000 homeowners took advantage of annual leaf collections in the past. Last year Saint Lazare officials decided to do away with the spring collection, leaving many unprepared. The environmental impact of producing biodegradable bags and then having trucks drive around to collect the bags takes a large toll, Hamel noted. Residents wishing to submit comments about the new leaf fee can call 450 424-8000, ext. 348.

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