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This is a report on Stakeholder Workshops held in support of the development of the City of Ottawa’s 30-Year Waste Plan.  The workshops were designed to seek validation by participants of the draft discussion paper developed by the City’s Environmental Services Department that outlines a long-term vision for Ottawa’s waste plans, and sets out a number of goals and targets required to implement that vision.  Specifically, the purpose of the sessions was to gauge whether participants felt: (a) the City was moving in the right direction; (b) the paper accurately captured the interests of the various stakeholder sectors; and (c) whether it accurately captured the aspirations of Ottawans regarding future waste management.


The long-term Waste Plan is scheduled for adoption in 2012.




The City’s consultation program for Phase 1 of the Waste Plan commenced in August 2011, with a series of initial workshops held with stakeholders to gather feedback on waste management practices within Ottawa.  A Discussion Paper was drafted using feedback received, which was made available for public comment between October 11 and November 1, 2011.


In conjunction with the Paper being released to the general public, three stakeholder workshops were also held to solicit specific feedback on the vision, goals, objectives and targets proposed in the Discussion Paper.


The targets in the Discussion Paper were addressed by mean of individual questionnaire, whose compilation is not in this report.  The City’s Phase 1 consultation also included a web-based public questionnaire, which workshop participants were encouraged to complete on site with communication devices provided by the City.  The results of this public questionnaire will be tabulated by the City. 


Feedback from the stakeholder workshops, independent submissions and the general public will be used to finalize the staff report that will be presented to the City’s Environment Committee on November 15, 2011.




Invites were sent to approximately 200 waste sector stakeholders that had been identified by City staff and invited to the preliminary workshops in August, requesting their participation at one of three workshops held on October 25, 26 and 27, 2011.  The draft Discussion Paper was attached to the invitation and the participants were asked to read it in advance. 


The workshops were structured to allow participants to work together as a plenary group, led by a facilitator, with opportunities for small group discussions with the guidance of a table host.  The workshops more specifically reviewed the vision statement, goals and lists of “how to achieve” statements that were contained in the draft Discussion Paper.  A copy of the Workshop Agenda can be found in Appendix ‘A’.

A total of 44 participants attended the workshops.  They represented all facets of waste handling, including: private landfill owners and waste treatment or disposal businesses, commercial and governmental landlords, public and private housing projects, school boards and hospitals, environmental groups and waste consultants, as well as small business owners and representatives.  A small number of residents also attended.  City staff from the Environmental Services Department were also present to offer support on technical matters.  A list of participating organizations can be found in Appendix ‘B’.


A wide range of comments and input was collected, as summarized on the following pages.

Oval: Draft Vision:
By 2042, Ottawa will still have room in its municipal landfill because as a community we have improved our rates of reducing, reusing and recycling.

What We Heard


This section of the Report summarizes the key trends taken from the input received.  Emphasis has been placed on the ideas and comments that relate directly to the Discussion Paper: Goals and Target Setting for Ottawa’s 30-Year Waste Plan.


High Level Comments: Is the porridge too hot, too cold, or just right?


Following a presentation overview on the draft Discussion Paper, participants were asked to rank the draft vision statement, on a scale of 1-5, where:


o   ‘1 means the vision statement goes too far, is too aggressive

o   ‘2’ means you are generally unhappy with the vision

o   ‘3’ means you are generally happy with it, but have some reservations

o   ‘4’ means that it is great as is

o   ‘5’ means that the vision statement doesn’t go far enough, is not aggressive enough.


The results of the ranking exercise are presented in the table below:






































Note: Some persons at the October 25th workshop initially gave a low or very low score of ‘1’ or ‘2’ to the vision statement.  Following a clarification of the ranking criteria, 4 persons who initially voted scores of ‘3/2/1’ changed their score to a ‘5’.  They had voted a low score to indicate that they felt the vision statement did not go far enough.  For example, they would set the target year further in the future than 2042, so that the City owned landfill sites fill even more slowly than stated in the Discussion Paper, because even more waste is reduced, diverted, recycled and so on than the degree proposed by the Discussion Paper.


A plenary discussion ensued as to why participants ranked the vision the way they did.  Stakeholder commentary falls into two broad camps:



Roughly half of the participants fall into each camp.  The “realistic” camp stated sentiments such as, ‘the Discussion Paper is moving in the right direction’ or ‘this is a reasonable approach’ or ‘a realistic balance’ which aims to increase adherence to the ideal of the waste pyramid and thus keep City-owned landfills open until at least 2042.


The “more ambitious” camp indicated the City’s targets and programs should be more aggressive than stated in the Discussion Paper.  They are of the opinion that much more can be done to refuse, re-use, reduce, recycle and recover, so that the volume of residual waste is significantly less and the municipal landfills are filled even more slowly than proposed in the Discussion Paper.  A small number also suggested that they would be in favour of a “zero waste” approach, even if only as a motivating slogan which is not intended literally.


It is important to note that none of the stakeholders consulted were of the opinion that the Discussion Paper as a whole goes too far, is too demanding or should be more cautious.  Given that the Discussion Paper is predicated on enhanced performance in virtually all areas of waste management and disposal, this is significant.  (That being said, there were reservations about, and in a few instances opposition to, some of the specific actionable items in the How To lists for each Goal.)


Participants were then asked to comment on the eight draft goals listed in the Discussion Paper.  None of the participants suggested any change to the wording or the import of the eight Goal statements, as outlined in the table below.  There was very little comment on the actual wording of the Goal statements.  Once one accepts the premise of the vision statement, as stated or modified, the Goals were considered obvious or “motherhood”.


Discussion Paper Goals

Overall Comment

Goal #1: Generate less waste

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #2: Optimize waste diversion

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #3: Reliable, safe and affordable municipal waste services

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #4: Ensure customers have a high degree of satisfaction with the City’s waste services

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #5: Asset optimization, financial accountability, and risk management in all aspects of program design and service delivery

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #6: The Province increases its regulatory and financial leadership in waste management

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #7: Regular assessment and reporting on the City’s waste programs and services

All participants agreed with the goal statement

Goal #8: Access to data affecting waste management in Ottawa

All participants agreed with the goal statement


There was significant constructive commentary on improvements to the lists of “How To Achieve” statements (bullet points) that accompany each goal in the Discussion Paper.  Many bullet points were fully supported or were commented on in a minor way.  Suggestions for improvement were made to many other bullet points.  The only bullet points which resulted in at least some disagreement were in the area of bilingual and culturally adapted services or programs; and in reaction to proposals to extend municipal control which could replace or displace the private sector.  It is noteworthy that none of the bullet points in the How To lists were rejected outright by a plurality of participants.


Most Common Issues Raised


Three broad issues were raised more frequently than others.  These have been organized into the following categories, with a fourth category to capture the balance of the comments:


1.                   Residential

2.                   Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I)

3.                   Public Education

4.                   Other Issues.


1. Residential


The great majority of stakeholder participants approved of those aspects of the Discussion Paper that address the curbside residential waste system, which is a Municipal service.  The primary area noted for improvement is multi-residential buildings and communal recycling and garbage facilities for these residences.


Key Observations Distilled from the Participant Comments:


·      Almost none of the suggested improvements to the Discussion Paper were about the curbside residential waste collection system operated by the City.  The content presented in the Discussion Paper was seen as realistic for the residential component, on the whole.  There was support for progressive targets to reduce residual waste disposal moving forward.


·      Suggestions were made to improve the recycling and waste minimization rates in apartment buildings, condominiums and similar multiple unit or communal facility arrangements.  Some called for better public education, others for enforcement and still others for financial incentives to make improvements to the facilities.  Finally, suggestions were also directed at practical implementation, such as best practice in signage.


2. Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (IC&I)


This was the area most often singled out as a structural weakness in the Discussion Paper.  Many participants indicated that the City could not formulate a coherent thirty year waste plan when it does not even have data on the IC&I waste stream.  The reason for this situation is that it is a private sector responsibility under a provincial jurisdiction, which means there is no requirement for the data to be reported to the City.  As such, improved data availability was widely supported by stakeholders.  Perhaps due to the absence of data on which to make an analysis, there was mixed opinion about whether the City should or should not become an IC&I service provider.  There was moderate support for the City being “more involved” in IC&I, but no consensus on what that involvement would be (beyond the initial step of getting access to the data).  One proposal that was submitted was for the City to adopt a by-law mandating the IC&I sector to increase its recycling efforts.


Key Observations Distilled from the Participant Comments:


·      The City has no firm knowledge of the amount of materials handled by the IC&I sector, as currently, there is no reporting of this data.


·      The City has no legal way to access IC&I data.  Provincial cooperation is required to access reliable data.


·      Since there is limited data on waste quantities or flow for the IC&I sector, there is no ability for the City to monitor the targets outlined in the Discussion Paper.  Private landfill capacity and usage is not known. 


·      Unless required by law, private firms are not willing to release information, especially when it reveals trade secrets to their competitors.


3. Public Education


The single most frequently mentioned and most widely supported improvement to the Discussion Paper would be the need to include public education.  Attitudes to recycling, to consumer demand for reduced packaging, to the reuse of durable goods, and similar behaviours, are seen as a question of societal values.  As such, information about the value of action and the consequences of inaction were seen as necessary.  In addition, some form of leadership, of inducing behavioural change, is felt to be key. 


Various forms of public awareness campaigns, citizen and stakeholder involvement, demonstration of best practices and investing in visible innovation were mentioned frequently and on virtually all topics.  For some participants, engaging the public includes reporting back to them on the Waste Plan progress.   Other participants noted that in the national capital, the federal government has a leadership role to play, as landlord and employer.


Key Observations Distilled from the Participant Comments:  


·      Awareness and education should be integrated into all the Goal statements, whereas they are scarcely present in the draft Discussion Paper.

·      Public education needs to be on-going and requires both a long-term and a multi-faceted approach.  Examples include informing new residents, reaching parents through children at school, involving citizens and groups, as well as landlords.

·      Local leadership is important; it is more effective when supported by external leadership and public information campaigns (ex. provincial, national).

·      Public education should not be seen as an option, an extra or an add on; it needs to be included in the core funding and as an integral part of the solution.



4. Other Issues


Among the other relatively significant issues raised are the following: making it easy for the public to make the right choice; city facilities need to set the example; contamination in the waste stream; triple bottom line accounting; use of new technologies and innovation; and provincial and federal regulations.


Key Observations Distilled from the Participant Comments:


·      Making it easy for the public to make the right choice: This point was addressed from several angles, such as making appropriate receptacles available for recycling, clear signage, financial assistance to landlords of multi-residential buildings and public education.  Conversely, not doing so perpetuates bad habits and creates the impression that this is not a priority for broader society.  It relates to the issue of public education, by making it easy for the public to find good information on what to do, and to facilitate behavioural change.


·      City facilities need to set the example: Public facilities such as recreation centres and community centres should conform to the highest standard.  In so doing, they also contribute to public education. 


·      Contamination in the waste stream: This is a more narrowly focused point than the preceding ones, but it is a significant drag on the efficiency and hence the cost and effectiveness of the recycling system.  It is about the contamination of clean recycling materials with organic wastes in particular.  It relates to the issues of public education, of multi-unit residential collection, and of making it easy for the public to make the right choice.


·      Triple bottom line, short and long-term affordability: There was general agreement that the waste management system needs to be “affordable”.  A number of participants noted that this should include the consideration of long-term costs, not just short-term.  Terms used include life cycle costing, full cost accounting, and similar other references.  Some participants noted that a “triple bottom line” should be used; i.e., in determining what is the true cost of action – or inaction – in environmental and social terms, as well as the traditional financial measurement. 


·      New technologies and innovation: Considering that the waste plan has a thirty year time horizon, some participants were of the opinion that more allowance should be made for new technologies and innovation.


·      Provincial and federal regulations and enforcement: It is clear that the rules – and their enforcement – by senior governments, are important to local success in achieving the waste plan goals.  Most participants were of the opinion that the City should be involved in efforts toward rule change and enforcement, some felt this was not the best use of City time and resources, and others on principle would not include strategies which are outside the City’s control in a municipal document.