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The garbage man can

By Charlotte Prong Parkhill, Kitchener Post staff

My husband Matt and I were sitting in the living room last week, having our morning coffee, when the recycling truck came around our street.

“I don’t know why, but it makes me really happy when all the garbage gets picked up,” Matt said.

It was the week after the holidays, and I’m sure we weren’t the only house with a curb full of holiday excess — three recycling bins, an extra garbage bag and a Christmas tree — that needed to be picked up.

But despite all the extra piles of crap, the Christmas trees, and three statutory holidays, garbage pickup went off without a hitch.

It may seem like a small thing and one that most of us probably don’t appreciate until something goes wrong, but it’s actually kind of a logistical miracle.

Waste management is just one of hundreds of regional and city responsibilites that affect our day-to-day lives in a really intimate way.

We go to the washroom and with the flick of a lever, whoosh, it’s gone. We turn on our tap any hour of the day or night and get clean running water, hot or cold.

Snow is quickly cleared from our relatively pothole-free streets. Police, fire and ambulances respond within minutes to emergencies. Our public transit is decent and improving.

And those are just a few of the essentials that everyone expects.

But everyone has different priorities when it comes to how our local tax dollars are spent.

For me, the Kitchener Public Library and other libraries within the Waterloo Region borrowing system are a must. I need good sidewalks to walk my dog, as well as dog parks and trails. I like going to shows at Centre in the Square.

Your priorities might include arenas, swimming pools, services for seniors, or funds for social assistance.

It’s our job to make sure that tax dollars are spent wisely on services we care about, and not wasted through bureaucratic bungling.

That’s why the public input process is so important during budget deliberations at both the city and regional level. Our councillors perform a juggling act every year at this time — maintaining or enhancing services while keeping tax increases reasonable.

It’s a huge responsibility and they need to hear from you.

But remember, there may be many services you never use yourself that still enhance the quality of life in our city, and therefore affect us all indirectly.

“I’ll never complain about our tax bill,” Matt said.

“It’s less than what we pay every month for cable, internet and phone service.”

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