Letter to the City of Lethbridge Re: Business Waste, Recycling Program
January 26, 2023
ATTN: Mayor Blaine Hyggen, Lethbridge City Council, and Lethbridge City Manager Lloyd Brierley
Dear Mr. Mayor, Members of Council and City Manager Brierley:
The Lethbridge Chamber is a member driven organization representing Lethbridge’s business community. The Chamber is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has acted as our city’s convener for leaders of influence, catalyst for business growth and champion for a strong community 133 years.
The Chamber extends our congratulations and support on bringing our community into line with the rest of our country by implementing a recycling and organics collection and processing program. This program will help us to further divert organics and recyclables from the landfill.
While we applaud a program in concept, in implementation of Business Waste, Recycling & Organics program there was insufficient consultation with the business community. The resulting program is felt to be performed with overreach and places an undue cost on Lethbridge businesses to remain in compliance.
The details of the Business Waste, Recycling & Organics program came as a surprise to many in the business community and have left many others with a sense of confusion. This could have been easily avoided with proper consultation during the creation of this program, as opposed to providing information after the fact. Consultations with the business community which occurred in 2013 during the development of the Waste Diversion Policy are not reflective of the business landscape nearly a decade later.
Moreover, “Stakeholder Information Sessions” — attended by 80 non-residential participants, in a city with over 3,000 active business licenses — held in March 2020 at a time when business owners were otherwise occupied with the looming possibility of strict Covid-19 measures, which were implemented just 10 days later, is insufficient to inform the business community about these programs. We see the evidence of this in the number of shocked, confused and upset business owners in the wake of Town Hall information sessions.
Rather than seeking feedback and creating a program that will be effective and positive for Lethbridge businesses, our members and the greater business community are simply being told that this program is how it’s going to be, “or else”.
The ReTRAC Reporting Portal requests information from businesses that we believe is unnecessary and is an example of municipal government circumvent. Businesses are being asked to list which haulers that they have contracted. Information on contracts between individual organizations are, frankly, none of the municipal government’s business. In addition, the requirement to provide examples of signage displayed to employees is unnecessary, and an example of the municipal government playing the role of an untrusting parent, where that role is not necessary.
Mandatory training in organics disposal for every employee places an undue cost burden on Lethbridge businesses at a time when the Brighter Together Business Survey identified rising costs as one of the top three obstacles to business in our community. Government mandated training sessions for a process, that employees will be expected to implement in their own homes already, will create a needless cost to business; and once again treats business owners and their employees like children that must have their hands held by their government parent. This is to say nothing of the ongoing costs of compliance with the program, and capital expenses required to initially participate which the City of Lethbridge has offered no options to offset.
The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce requests a pause on the implementation of the Business Waste, Recycling & Organics program for proper consultation with the business community, time to ensure that businesses are aware of the program and to reduce the amount of municipal government overreach built into the system. Red Tape around organics disposal is not something that business can add to the already growing list of concerns.
We reiterate that The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, and business community, supports the concept of bringing our community in line with the rest of the country with a strong recycling and organics program. However, we ask that the City of Lethbridge treat Lethbridge business owners and their employees like adults and stop trying to play parent where it is unnecessary and unwelcome.
Chief Executive Officer
Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce