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Garbage limits coming to a curbside near you

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It is official — the city of Ottawa's new curbside garbage policy will come into effect this fall.

City council gave the three-item garbage limit the rubber stamp on Wednesday. It will start on Sept. 30.

"When it comes to garbage — when it comes to any other service like that — we are all in it together, so we share the responsibility and the financial burden of paying for garbage collection and recycling and green bin collection," said Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

This is the biggest change to curbside garbage collection since the city switched to bi-weekly pickup in 2012.

Each cycle, residents will be allowed to put three items on the curb. An item could include a garbage bag, a 140-litre container, or a bulky item like a piece of furniture.

Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard is chair of the city's environment committee and says it is important to know what is considered an item.

"It's three large containers, 140 litres… So you could put in multiple small bags in one of those containers. That's just one item. You can have three of those large containers. That would be your three items. Usually people might put out on a bulky item. Again, that's fine, that's included. And of course, there's no limit on recycling or green bin," he says.

Enforcement will be rolled out gradually. The city of Ottawa will be deploying trash cops to monitor for illegal dumping, when the new three-item garbage limit is introduced this fall.

Public Works Department General Manager Alain Gonthier says the city will be making residents aware of the changes over the next four months.

"First and foremost, we want (residents) to be aware of the change that's taking place. We're providing ample time in terms of being able to communicate and educate residents on the change, what's going to be permitted, what will not be permitted starting September 30th, 2024."

Starting in October, all garbage items at the curb are collected, even if the limit is being exceeded, according to the city.

In November, collection crews will leave one item over the limit behind, with a notice of non-compliance.

"There will be a notice left behind, to warn folks if there's an issue with how many garbage items they're putting out," says Menard. "But if there's an extra one put out there that is not supposed to be there, then garbage inspectors will leave it out there with a notice and residents have to put that out the next trash cycle."

In December, only three garbage items will be collected, anything extra will be left, with a non-compliance tag.

"If we look forward in time after December, let's say next January, somebody leaves four items at the curb, we would be picking up basically three items unless that fourth item is in a yellow bag at which point we would we would also pick that up," says Gonthier.

The City of Ottawa's education campaign ahead of the launch of the three-item limit this fall will include information on illegal dumping.

The city will be extending the yellow bag program to residential households, allowing people to set out additional garbage at the curb.

Bags will be sold in four-packs for $17.60 plus tax, and would be available at all seven Client Service Centres, 10 Home Hardwares and one BMR.

Menard hopes this new policy can make a difference.

City staff say the Trail Waste Facility Landfill could reach capacity between 2034 and 2035 and a new landfill or waste-to-energy facility could cost between $350 and $500 million.

"A lot of other municipalities have moved to a much more stringent system than this, this is a pretty light touch when it comes to conserving our air space at our trail road landfill," says Menard.

"I think it depends on how much those garbage collectors are really working with residents. There's going to be those discussions and chats with people and a lot of information that comes from city councillors to describe the program. We need to make these changes because our landfill is filling up and we've got lots of things going into the landfill that shouldn't be going there right now," Menard says.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle

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