A proposed garbage and recycling pickup program in a Manitoba rural municipality has some residents raising concerns.

The RM of St. Clements has been weighing its options for some time and thinks it’s the right time for curbside collection.

Tara Bailey has lived in the RM her whole life. She loves the community, and is happy with the way she currently gets rid of trash.

“We just take it to the local transfer station ourselves. It’s $2 a bag. We also drop the recycling there,” said Bailey.

Others hire contractors to remove their trash for them, but soon they may not have that choice.

The RM is looking at adding curbside collection. If implemented, people living in selected zones would have to take part.

Bailey started a petition because she doesn’t think that’s fair.

“I’m sure there are people that do want the garbage pickup, and that’s fine, I would just like to have an option of opting in rather than being forced into it.”

The proposal shows garbage collection would occur weekly, while recycling would be picked up biweekly. Bailey believes with more people wanting to be environmentally friendly, the RM should look at upping recycling collection. The RM said it heard from residents who compost at home, but for the time being, organics would not be collected on their own. The RM said it’s something it would consider for the future.

During consultations, St. Clements looked at 12 municipalities of similar sizes. It found out nine currently do curbside collection.

“We only recycle 25 kilograms per household, whereas other community like East St. Paul to the south of us do over 92 kilograms per household,” said DJ Sigmundson, CAO of the RM of St. Clements.

The annual cost per household starts at $105, and for 2018 residents would pay $52.50 because it would only be for half the year. Using two per cent inflation, the RM estimates costs would grow to nearly $116 per year by 2023.

For the RM, the first full year of curbside collection would cost close to $283,000, climbing to $325,000 in its fifth year.

As it stands now, if curbside pickup is approved, there’s no backing out.

“It’s not going to be possible to opt out if your area is chosen. If the majority of people in your area, you know, want it and you’re in a fringe area, it’s possible that council will consider cutting that area out if it doesn’t make sense,” said Sigmundson.

Bailey hopes that changes. She said she’s also concerned for businesses that residents currently use for a similar service.

“Rather than take away business from local people that are already doing it, let them have it, and the rest of us who want to take the garbage to the landfill sites ourselves, then we should be allowed to do that,” Bailey said.

The RM will be holding a public hearing on January 29 at 7 p.m. at the East Selkirk Hall, giving residents the chance to voice their thoughts.

If curbside collection is approved, the RM is aiming for a July 2018 start.

More information on the proposal can be found here.