Loose Leaf Collection

Loose leaf collection will begin October 28 and run, weather permitting, until November 23, 2019, including Saturdays. The week of November 25 will provide an additional week for yard waste collection. For full information on the loose leaf collection process, schedule, the status of your zone, what to do if you can’t rake leaves to the curb yourself, and more visit the City of Waterloo’s Loose Leaf Collection website. Please also avoid raking leaves onto the road too far ahead of the scheduled pick-up. This can be dangerous and inconvenient for cyclists.

While this will be my first official leaf collection season as a city councillor, I first began working on this matter with residents right after the election and before I was inaugurated in December 2018.

Most of the people I spoke with said they want the program to continue, but there are tweaks they think would improve it. These include increasing awareness and education about the program’s origins and intent, increased levels of service, and improved scheduling. More on each of these below.

Education: Originally, the program was meant to keep storm drains clear of leaves and prevent leaves from entering the storm sewer system. As such, only leaves that fell on the boulevard were intended for leaf pickup through the city’s leaf collection program. The rest of a property’s leaves were meant to be bagged for regional yard waste collection. This is still the intent of the program. Over time and for whatever reason(s), many households (mine included) started raking all of their property’s leaves to the curb for pickup.

Increased levels of service: This higher than anticipated volume of leaves, combined with tree growth since the program began, multiple varieties of trees with leaves that drop at different times, but especially because of the increasingly unpredictable weather patterns as a result of climate change means the program can be challenging to deliver at times. In particular, snow falls can really derail the program. Snow can slow down the pick-up because wet and frozen leaves are more labour intensive to pick up. Leaf collection blowers (a weird name, I thought at first, since the leaves get sucked up) can be damaged when picking up very hard chunks of ice and snow. In addition, the same trucks are used for leaf collection and snow removal. Converting trucks to snow plows is a resource intensive process, so once a truck is converted it remains that way for the rest of the winter, leaving fewer trucks available for the remainder of the leaf collection service.

Scheduling: One of the main concerns I heard was around scheduling. As with all other feedback I receive, I passed concerns along to staff. I know they have been working hard to create a schedule where, as much as possible, leaf collection will happen first in areas where leaves drop earlier and in more heavily forested areas towards the end of the service.

As we move into this year’s leaf collection service I would like to continue to work collaboratively with you and staff to improve this season further. Here are a few of my ideas about how we might be able to do that:

  • Consider joining me and leaving your leaves on your lawn. Doing so provides a habitat for key critters that support various other parts of our natural ecosystem, like birds. For more information about how to help birds survive the winter, follow this link.

  • Please help me flag areas where leaves are falling later into the season. We can share this data with staff who can take this into consideration when planning and scheduling next year. Staff reviewed all messages from last year and will continue to monitor feedback this year to identify ongoing improvements to the program.

  • While extra pick-ups are not very likely, if you could use one it’s always worth asking. Perhaps the trucks might be ahead of schedule or are able to make a quick stop while en route to their scheduled zone. Bonus if it’s possible!

Do you have other ideas? I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to reach out to me at jen.vasic@waterloo.ca or call me at (519) 635-9436.

Jen Vasic