June 13, 2018 7:43 pm

After rough ride in committee, Calgary shelves pay-as-you-throw program

A black cart for garbage collection, blue cart for recycling, and green cart for composting sit in a Calgary alley.

City of Calgary

Waste and Recycling Services is recommending that Calgarians get the option of deciding how big a black cart they want, and the size will determine how much they pay for the service. But a city committee wants more information on costs before giving the go-ahead.

The current black cart is 240 litres and would be considered the middle size in terms of what would be available.

Ward 4 councillor Ward Sutherland said the decision to offer black carts that better fit household needs shouldn’t be a difficult decision.

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“To be honest, this isn’t rocket science or anything new,” Sutherland said. “Penticton, Toronto, Vancouver, Kamloops, they’ve been doing this for years. So, as I’ve said before, lots of residents say, ‘There are only two of us left in the house, we’d only fill a quarter of this. Why don’t we get a choice?'”

READ MORE: Black cart collection changes being considered by Calgary council

Along with the range of black bin sizes would come a “tag a bag” program, where Calgarians could purchase stickers to put on a garbage bag they could leave outside their black cart if it was full.

However, the idea got a rough ride at council’s Utilities and Corporate Services committee.

Ward 2 councillor Joe Magliocca said there would be problems in his northwest communities if a tag a bag program was brought in.

“Well, I guarantee you, in my neighbourhood, they won’t be paying for bags,” Magliocca said. “They’ll just go walk up and down the block, and make sure if other [black bins] aren’t full, they’ll just fill theirs. That’s what they would do. They’re not going to pay for [bags].”

READ MORE: Different-sized black garbage carts could be coming to Calgary

Rick Valdarchi, City of Calgary director of Waste and Recycling, acknowledged that there could be hidden challenges in changing the city’s waste removal program.

“Notionally, with any of these programs, it sounds very simple and straight-forward,” Valdarchi said. “There’s always elements of it that we need to be aware of; we need to make sure that we’re addressing everything, and that we have the proper information.”

Valdarchi also said the committee is asking council to refer the matter to early next year to get a better idea of the costs involved in a tag a bag program.

READ MORE: Solution proposed to allow for angle parking in Calgary cul-de-sacs

“At the end of the day, they were concerned about things like contamination in the other programs that could occur. And they were also concerned about overall costs: capital and operating, and how that could be reflected in rates. And they’ve asked us to come back with that information before they’ll make any decision on whether we want to proceed with implementation of this sort of program.”

The original plan was to have the different cart sizes and tag a bag program ready for implementation for mid-2020.

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