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Aurora clear garbage bag plan prompts privacy issues

It's a snoopy neighbour's dream, residents say
Feb. 12, 2015
By Teresa Latchford

Clear garbage bags are a snoop’s dream, according to some Aurora residents.

About 50 homeowners attended an information session hosted by the Town of Aurora as it contemplates transitioning from the use of green or black bags to clear for curbside garbage pickup.

Attendees viewed an educational slide show, handled bag samples and asked town staff and officials questions about the proposed program.

Aurora resident Fern Kirsch isn’t alone in feeling like her life will be on display through the translucent bags.

“All of my neighbours will be able to view my garbage,” she said. “This will be particularly sensitive when people have health-related or religious items that can’t be placed in the blue or green bin.”

Other residents at the meeting shared her view and are concerned the program will create a neighbour shaming atmosphere by allowing people an opportunity to judge those living close to them by what they eat, purchase or waste.

Aurora waste co-ordinator Amanda Cutler admitted most questions she received at the meeting were about privacy.

“We get that there are things people want to keep private,” she said. “We aren’t looking to make anyone’s life harder.”

‘We aren’t looking to make anyone’s life harder.’

While the original information released on the town’s website states residents will be allowed three small opaque bags such as plastic grocery bags, Cutler corrected the information and told residents they can use as many as they like.

Residents using garbage bins containing smaller bags also won’t have to change their practice.

The information made some residents question the point of the transition if it’s not going to be enforced.

Not all residents are against the use of clear bags.

Harold and Ann Bowyer fully support the program now that they have all of the information.

“We have lived in Aurora for 35 years and are avid recyclers,” Ann Bowyer said.

“We had some questions about private things we throw out that should be kept private but those have been answered.”

Long-time resident Mary Smith thinks the program is terrific and can’t imagine why anyone would put up a fuss about something that will help divert garbage from the landfill and help the environment.

“I know people are thinking ‘Big Brother’ but I don’t really care what’s in your garbage,” Mayor Geoff Dawe joked. “We just want to make it easy for people to do the right thing.”

Council will discuss residents’ questions and be presented results from the town’s online survey available at, at the Feb. 19 general committee meeting.

Once the stamp of approval is received from council, the town plans to begin the program on a voluntary participation basis come June and making it mandatory in October.

For more about the proposed program or to take the online survey, visit