Talking trash: Saskatoon adopting pay-as-you-throw garbage program

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Talking trash: Saskatoon to adopt pay-as-you-throw garbage program
WATCH ABOVE: People in Saskatoon react to a new garbage user fees set to be implemented in 2020. Some say it's a good compromise, while others think the model stinks. – Nov 20, 2018

How many bags of trash do you throw out a week? People will want to start paying attention because by 2020, the City of Saskatoon will implement a pay-as-you-throw model meaning the bigger the garbage bin you require, the bigger the fee.

“We decided that that new organics program would be funded by property tax and that we would implement a waste utility model in Saskatoon with a variable bin model for collection,” Ward 7 Coun. Mairin Loewen said.

Homeowners will have three bin sizes to select from with a proposed rate of $72 a year for the smallest versus $132 for the largest.

“The estimates that we have been discussing are just that – estimates,” Loewen added.

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Saskatoon city hall displays the garbage bin sizes. File / Global News

For some it’s a good compromise, a garbage user fee in exchange for a city-wide green bin program. The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council (SWRC), who has been following discussions closely, said it couldn’t be more thrilled.

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“It gives people some options, you’re not stuck with the same size garbage cart,” said SWRC spokesperson Naomi Mihilewicz.

“Now people have a little bit of choice and flexibility and we think it really rewards people if they’re making less waste.”

City councillors said it was either this option or raise taxes after drawing reserves nearly dry for years to pay for garbage.

“If they’re looking for ways to do things that are a little more affordable for everybody else I think that’s better, but with the recycling that we do we don’t have a lot of garbage,” one Saskatoon resident told Global News.

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According to city officials, homeowners like these are not alone with data showing that most black bins on garbage day are only 40 per cent full. This move will help the city divert 70 per cent of its waste.

A photo of the City of Saskatoon landfill. File / Global News

Still, some people think this idea stinks and the model is total garbage given what they pay now in property taxes.

Mihilewicz said individuals opposed to the plan need to keep in mind landfills don’t last forever and by diverting the trash now, the lifespan of the existing dump will be extended since a new one would cost $150 million.

“You bet that would cost taxpayers and your taxes would go up, so addressing this problem early and paying a small portion for your garbage now can avoid a much bigger cost later,” Mihilewicz added.


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