No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

I’m pretty serious about making Calgary just a little bit better.  I’m definitely serious about doing at least one thing above and beyond the ordinary to make it happen.

I’m absolutely determined that I’m going to be more than just a person who lives in my neighbourhood.  I’m going to contribute.  I’m going to make it a place where I want to live and where I want my neighbours to live as well.

When I started with #BetterYYC the very first thing I did was start to clean near the intersection of 17th Avenue SE and Deerfoot Trail.  It was terribly littered and that annoyed me.  So when I was challenged to make Calgary better on my own, that was the first place I tackled.  I’ve made a visible difference.  There is significantly less garbage there, it is clear to see the lower half where I have put more effort from the upper half of the hill where I have not done as much since the spring.

So last week I picked up one of the pieces of vinyl siding that someone had let fall off a truck or something and left at the side of the road.  It annoyed me, I had the time and carrying capacity to pick it up, so I finally got it.  There were originally two or three, I presume the others had blown away.  I actually feel bad about that, I really should have picked them up months ago and prevented them from being a hazard along 17th Avenue.

So today I came home and found this along the fence in the back yard.

I called 3-1-1 and was told that it’s considered residential renovation waste and therefore it does not get picked up with regular garbage.  Fine, but this wasn’t renovation waste, this was clearly picked up from the side of the road.  “Well, did it fit fully into the black bin?“  Absolutely, it was fully in the bin with the lid closed.  One of the purported benefits of the black bins was that we wouldn’t have to chop all our garbage into small manageable sizes for disposal.  I was told if it goes in the bin (and it’s not hazardous or restricted material) it’s okay.

I have two points to argue.

I absolutely understand that we cannot have renovation materials dumped in with regular garbage collection and the renovators should be responsible for proper disposal on their own.  I absolutely understand that a piece of vinyl siding counts as renovation waste.  On the other hand, this is one single piece of vinyl siding - clearly I am not renovating the apartment nor am I loading up the black bin weekly trying to sneak it past the garbage man.

The second point that I will categorically make is to say, “HEY GARBAGEMAN!  What you just did by leaving that siding on the side of the alley like that is LITTERING!  This is my neighbourhood, there’s litter enough and I’m doing my best to pick up the litter and clean up the area.  How dare you leave it like that so it could be blown away by the wind and continue to be the hazard that I tried to avoid in the first place?“  That’s an unacceptable action.

So instead of going out to pick up more garbage tonight, I’m down to chopping up the siding into little pieces, putting it into a garbage bag, and then it goes away no questions asked.  Out of sight, out of mind.  That completely defies common sense.

Another one of those Red Tape rules that defies logic, and calls for poor behaviour from the the City of Calgary’s Waste Management staff.

I’m not going to stop.  If anyone from the City wants to talk to me, you’ll find me along 17th Avenue SE tomorrow sometime around 5:00 picking up cigarette boxes, fast food containers, candy wrappers, coffee cups, styrofoam, broken plastic car parts, broken hub caps, and whatever treasures get left along the road for me. All of which will be considered garbage and hauled away.  Except a single piece of vinyl siding, that’s where you draw the line.

I don’t care all that much whether I have to cut it down and bag it.  But I care a whole lot that I’m trying to make my community better, and someone else comes along and makes it worse.