By Barb Brouwer
Anyone who believes the old adage that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” hasn’t seen all that gets stuffed into public garbage cans.
The City of Salmon Arm maintains 201 garbage receptacles throughout the community, including 60 green bins that are eight feet tall, with five feet buried in the ground.
The bags are replaced weekly in some cases and are 10-feet long and hold about 300 gallons of garbage.
Many collect the type of waste the city expects – fast-food containers, candy wrappers and other miscellaneous “trash” items.
“Anything you’d take to a game or picnic, that’s what they’re for, for park users,” said Kevin Hansen, supervisor of Parks and Facilities, who notes people sometimes empty garbage from their vehicles into the bins as well. “Car stuff is not so bad, but the bins are not meant for household garbage. We’re not the dump.”
That is the darker, dirtier side to what parks and facilities employee Dave Dollack often finds when he makes his daily rounds to empty the many bins.
Along with the expected dog poop, household garbage, dirty diapers and other equally odious items that are thrown in, what can’t be shoved through the 23-cm (9-inch) opening, often ends up beside the bins. This includes full bags of household garbage, batteries, oil cans, pottery pieces, plant pots and more.
“We find garbage daily that is supposed to be in the bin, but is on it, around it or on top of it, but not in it because it don’t fit,” said Hansen bluntly.
On a recent visit to Canoe Beach, a bag of garbage was found left on top of a garbage can. That can become an open invitation to crows, who, being very smart, get into just about anything, Hansen said.
“At places like Canoe Beach and South Canoe it could be a problem with bears and coyotes becoming habituated, along with raccoons, skunks and city rats,” he added.
Hansen said the city receives six or eight calls over the year of things that end up in the bins inadvertently and are fished out by city staff – cell phones, wallets, bank cards, keys and even once, false teeth.
He gives Dollack high praise for the job that he does.
“He’s very important to our operations,” he said. “He takes what he’s doing very seriously and takes a lot of pride in it. Delays because of extra garbage and graffiti keep him from the other parts of his job, like going through stock and making purchases.”
Dollack begins his workday at 5 a.m. by cleaning out the city’s 13 public washrooms before moving on to garbage bins. Downtown is the first priority, so washrooms and garbage bins are cleared before people start entering the area.
Location dictates how often the bins are cleaned out, with Marine Park, Blackburn and ball diamonds being cleaned out weekly.
Hansen said the overflow parking at Parkhill in Canoe is one of the worst locations, with someone routinely emptying rabbit bedding and waste into the bin, along with household garbage. But the site that is perhaps the most discouraging is the huge amount of litter left all over the Blackburn Park skateboard park after a weekend, despite garbage cans being readily available.
Over the past couple of months, a green bin on 20th Street and and 6 Avenue NE has been the site of increased dumping and area residents are now keeping their eyes on the can.
In the meantime, the city is in the process of replacing several trash receptacles that use a regular residential, galvanized metal that are rusting out and becoming dangerous.
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