Sometimes trial balloons don’t float; they immediately plunge to the ground.
Members of council recently discussed the idea that the city could save $95,000 by stopping the pickup of bags of leaves and grass clippings at homes.
I’ll listen any time someone has an idea to save money for the city or any level of government.
This one is deceptively simple. Cut a service, save money.
Or do you?
If you do save a dollar, it might come at another cost. Or you might create new costs.
Let’s explore the alternatives.
The first alternative would be a massive grass and leaves dump somewhere in or near the city. You would immediately save money by cutting down on all of those pickups.
What’s the down side?
Well, I’m guessing your recycling percentage goes from nearly 100 per cent to half of that in a day. People who couldn’t be bothered -- or aren’t physically able -- would start throwing those bags into their garbage bins, cutting the life of your fancy new garbage dump.
At present, 1.2 million pounds of material are picked up every year. Any significant percentage of that being tossed into garbage bins is a big problem.
And somebody has to move the central pile at some point. That won’t be free.
I’ll make a little trip back to my old stomping grounds, Brandon, for example No. 2.
They have a system where large metal bins are placed in a number of locations around the city. City staff then cruise around in a specially designed garbage truck emptying the bins as needed.
You have higher compliance than example No. 1 but you pay for it in wages and equipment.
There’s also an inherent problem with that system. It’s fine on most days but I lived on a lot with mature trees. Most years it took about 60 large bags of leaves to clean the yard up in the fall.
Each of those handful of bins in my area accommodated maybe a dozen bags. If I was the only guy doing leaves that day, I was fine dumping the bags but these bins serviced the entire north side of the city.
If the trucks weren’t keeping up on the busy days, it might take a couple of days to get all of your leaves unloaded.
Still, I think that beats the first example.
I’ll save the discussion for another column about how in Brandon you could throw anything recyclable into the blue bin and it was sorted, bundled and sold.
The recycling program in Prince Albert leaves a lot to be desired but there is a move on council toward making some changes. Let’s hope they’re both soon and sweeping.
• • •
I was saddened to hear about the death of Canadian music icon Stompin’ Tom Connors on Wednesday.
The 77-year-old singer died of natural causes in his Ballinfad, Ont., home after decades in the spotlight.
It had me reflecting on the notoriously cranky singer, his work and his legacy.
I did a little test when I wrote this. I tried to think of as many Stompin’ Tom songs as I could. I came up with Bud The Spud, Sudbury Saturday Night and The Hockey Song. I’m guessing that a lot of people would have a fairly similar list.
It’s a sad legacy for a man ranked No. 13 on The Greatest Canadian list, an Order Of Canada member and a multiple Juno award winner.
I was at Dauphin’s Countryfest one year when he played. I heard a lot of laughs during the show, which perfectly encapsulated our feelings about Connors.
I wasn’t sure if they were happy about seeing him or laughing at the man on the stage below keeping time to his guitar with a boot rhythmically striking a board with a microphone placed near it. It was utterly unlike anything that came before or after at one of Western Canada’s largest country music festivals.
I always had a nagging feeling that the heightened level of acclaim and the actual music didn’t quite balance.
Did I love his stuff? To be honest, no. In fact I find some of it almost unlistenable. But I own his greatest hits collection and still like hearing his biggest song at hockey games.
There’s no denying that the man loved his country. And since I don’t want to make this seem like a slam on a man who just passed, I will say that Canada is a better place for his musical passion and patriotism.
• • •
One of the sad realities of my career in newspapers is that my co-workers always move on. The Daily Herald is a small daily, which makes it a second level training ground, just ahead of the weeklies where I got my start many years ago.
In my couple of decades in Brandon, I worked with dozens of reporters, photographers, editors, deskers and interns. Eventually it was my time to leave as well.
And so it is that this Friday we say goodbye to Keely Dakin. The B.C. native has big plans in her future and I’ve always been supportive of her goals. It’s important to live large when you're young.
The nice thing about Keely was that she actually became a part of the community, not just a member.
She made friends and found interests outside of work, something I encourage. Her big laugh will be missed in the newsroom
She's be followed out the door a month later by our Quebecer, Alex Di Pietro, as he heads back to school at the end of April.
If you're halfway smart, you learn from every person in your life. I’ve learned a lot from both Keely and Alex.
I wish them nothing but good times and professional success.
Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org