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Calgary pilots compost bins at two city dog parks

Two Calgary off-leash parks are piloting a dog waste diversion program, that could also reduce the number of single-use plastic bags going to landfill.

The pilot, which began earlier this month at the Tom Campbell’s Hill and Queen’s Park Village dog parks, has signage and a modified residential green cart in the same location as garbage bins at park entrances for the disposal of pet feces.

The city would be asking off-leash patrons to use compostable bags at the parks. They have a QR code and other information on the locations in Calgary that provide these bags.

“Many people don’t know the difference between wild animal scat versus dog feces, and the potential impacts on the environment. Pick it up,” said Mary Jane Kenny, superintendent for parks and open spaces with the City of Calgary.

Kenny said that this is a partnership with the city’s waste and recycling unit to both encourage the composting of feces, but also reduce the number of single-use bags going into the waste stream.

“Our facility is able to use high temperatures to break (feces) down and eliminate any of the potential bacteria such as E.coli that’s found in it. But the single-use plastic is not something that can break down,” she said.

Kenny cited a 2017 composition study done by the city on waste generated at the off-leash areas. That showed the primary contents of garbage collected was dog waste.

“We know that there is a lot of waste, at least going to our landfill, and there’s an option to divert some of that waste and encourage the public to compost,” Kenny said.

Slippage in doo-doo clean up

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who is a dog owner, said that environmentally speaking this is a good pilot program.

The Tom Campbell’s Hill off-leash area is tucked into the northwest corner of Carra’s ward, and he said there’s a bigger problem overall. He’s concerned with the pick-up of poop in general.

“I’m worried about what I’m seeing as slippage in terms of how more people seem to not be picking up after their dogs,” he said.

“So, I like that it’s putting attention on the general act of being responsible about picking up our dog’s waste.”

Kenny said it’s definitely contributing to that message.

“It’s a reminder for everyone to not just compost but it is important to pick up after your pet,” she said.

Kenny said they’re in the very early stages of the pilot project. There will be an analysis of the contents that come in.

“We’ll definitely, at the end of the pilot, take the result and data that we posted and the feedback from the public and make more informed decisions as we go forward to determine if this is something we roll out on a larger scale.”

Kenny said costs for this pilot are being kept low and are being absorbed through the operations budgets of parks and waste and recycling.