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January 31, 2010

Winnipeg & Garbage, 2010 (by Margaret Ullrich)

Last Wednesday evening Paul and I were surprised to see a large truck, with its back open and lights flashing, leaving our little section of Winnipeg's north end. The truck was being followed by a van and a car, also with flashing lights. We just assumed someone was moving something large and didn't give it another thought.

The next day, at 8:00 a.m. - rush hour around here - we saw the same flashing truck and its companions park in both lanes of Weitzel, blocking the main exit from our neighborhood. First we thought it had had a breakdown. I mean, who would be so inconsiderate as to block a street unless it was an emergency. Then we saw people get out of the vehicles and start walking around like they didn't have a care in the world. They were wearing orange safety vests.

Uh, oh. City Employees.

Drivers of cars trying to get through to Burrows to get to work or drop off kids at school were forced to screech to a halt and go down side streets, all the while hoping they would get there in time.

Hey, Buddy, they were City Employees. They might jot down a licence number and hand it to a friend of a friend.

Then a snowplow came down the side street right next to where the truck and its cronies were parked. City Employees facing off with City Employees. It was a classic showdown at high noon.

Paul and I poured coffee and sat to watch the show.

It was like a scene from the movie Duel. The snowplow inched slowly toward the truck. It was bigger. It meant business. It could have the truck and its little buddies flattened or towed.

The safety vested fellows stopped strolling around, went back into their vehicles and drove a block down, single file. They backed the truck into our bay and 2 guys started unloading the new garbage cans. A fellow got out of the car and recorded on a computer that yes, indeed, a garbage can had been delivered to a house. Another fellow inserted a brochure in each can's handle.

Our tax dollars in action.

After they left, Paul hauled his can into our living room. It's huge. The can, I mean. We recycle and have a composter in our yard. We don't produce much garbage. Sometimes it takes us 2 weeks to fill a Safeway bag with garbage. This can holds 240 litres. It could hold at least 30 bags. Oy.

At first the little booklet was very clear. First we had to 'Protect' our cart by recording the serial number in the booklet and writing our address on the cart. Okay. That part was easy.

The rest of the instructions were a hoot. We were told to "Push the cart when going downhill and pull the cart when going uphill." We poured another cup of coffee. This looked better than anything on The Comedy Network.

There were Winter Cart Tips. "Be careful when moving your cart if the ground is slippery." Yah think?

Those city boys covered everything. They said "Carts left in the back lane are more at risk of theft, vandalism and damage from snowplows." Okay. But where do we store these honking big buckets so we can get them to and from where they'll do their business? We just didn't plan for these white elephants to be plopped on us like this.

We live in a fairly new development. We have back lane collection. Narrow back lane collection. Especially when it snows. Like it did last week. You're grateful you can get your car through without these carts blocking the way.

The booklet said the cart has to be about a foot away from the back fence and 3 feet (1 metre) clearance on either side. Right.

It also said to "Place the cart on the hydro pole side of the back lane." Hydro Pole? We have these cute little boxes. Have these people ever even seen our neighborhood?

Regarding back lane collections, it also said "There may be some exceptions to this. If so, we will contact you."

We're supposed to start using the new cart on Wednesday, February 3.

Our Safeway bag is half full.

I think I'll wait.


Have a great day. How can you miss - you're in Winnipeg!

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