St. Albert families whose medical needs mean overflowing garbage bins can now apply for a second container to manage their health care waste.
City council approved on Monday three readings of the residential solid waste management bylaw, introducing medical exemptions for garbage collection for the first time.
Under the new bylaw, the city will supply an extra 240-litre residential garbage cart per home for residents with a home health care issue who apply for an exemption.
The exemption is for a one-year period and residents will need to re-apply every year.
Some of the health care waste that can be put in the carts include empty and rinsed colostomy bags, incontinence pads and products, and intravenous bags and tubing.
However, biomedical waste, hazardous materials, "sharps" – referring to hypodermic needles, syringes or lancets – and prescription medication cannot be put in the carts.
On Monday, councillors heard the city could see a ballpark of 40 to 50 people apply for the exemption, based on numbers they received from other municipalities that have a similar exemption.
The motion received full support from all councillors present. Coun. Wes Brodhead and Coun. Ray Watkins were absent from the meeting.
Coun. Natalie Joly thanked city staff for the work they did on the policy. Joly initially brought the idea forward to council in August 2017 prior to the municipal election, and Coun. Sheena Hughes made the motion.
She said Monday that her advocacy on the motion was inspired by a family that moved to St. Albert from a community where waste exemptions were offered. The family, who has a child needing a catheter four times each day, has had to pay for extra bins since moving to St. Albert in order to dispose of the waste.
"This is really saving these people $100 per year – nothing huge, but it does make a difference," Joly said.
The exemption also received support from the environmental advisory committee (EAC).
In written advice to council, the EAC stated its members support the "compassionate accommodation for residents with home health care needs."
Coun. Jacquie Hansen, who sits on that committee, applauded the bylaw and said she thinks it is important.
She said the committee felt the exemption was about "care and compassion" for people dealing with health issues.
Hughes agreed with that assessment, adding she is looking forward to seeing the exemption in action.
Under the new bylaw, the city can inspect the garbage carts of people who apply for the exemption program in order to make sure they are complying with the requirements.