Saskatoon to charge garbage collection fee, fund organics program with taxes

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WATCH ABOVE: Saskatoon city council made changes to garbage and organics collection as the city tries to extend the landfill’s lifespan – Nov 19, 2018

Saskatoon homeowners will start paying a user fee to take out the trash come 2020 after a decision from city council.

After months of debate, councillors voted 6-5 in favour of a plan to establish a pay-as-you-throw garbage utility, meaning homeowners will pay monthly fees depending on the size of their garbage bin.

READ MORE: No decision by Saskatoon city council on Pay-As-You-Throw waste utility

The move received support from Mayor Charlie Clark, along with councillors Hilary Gough, Mairin Loewen, Sarina Gersher, Cynthia Block and Darren Hill.

Homeowners will choose from one of three bin sizes, each with a cost yet to be finalized.

The contentious utility model is designed to fill repeated multi-million dollar gaps in waste funding.

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“We’ve been drawing on reserves for years to pay for garbage in this city and those reserves were running dry,” said Loewen, who represents Ward 7.

The only other option would have been “a very substantial property increase to achieve that same level of service,” Loewen said.

Council also approved the funding model for its curbside organics collection, opting to pay for it through property taxes.

The program for compostable material was approved at an Oct. 22 meeting of council.

Councillors Troy Davies, Ann Iwanchuk, Randy Donauer and Bev Dubois opposed the funding decision Monday.

Using property taxes to pay for organics goes against city administration’s recommendation of a unified utility, in which user fees would be used for both garbage and organics.

Iwanchuk put forward a motion to defer a decision on funding a residential organics program until after the city has a plan to deal with commercial and multi-unit organic waste.

READ MORE: Coun. Ann Iwanchuk opposes Pay-As-You-Throw waste utility

Her motion received support from Davies, Dubois and Hill and it failed.

“I don’t believe in penalizing people to encourage good behaviour,” Iwanchuk said.

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The changes are meant to extend the life of Saskatoon’s landfill. A replacement would cost $150 million.

The city has a target of diverting 70 per cent of its waste from the landfill by 2023. Last year, the city managed a diversion rate of 23 per cent.

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