December 21, 2018 2:17 pm

SWRC calls Saskatoon city council’s reversal on waste utility ‘disappointing’

WATCH: SWRC board member Sheri Praski said people are going to pay for garbage pickup in the end with a tax increase.

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The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council (SWRC) says Saskatoon city council’s decision this week to drop a “user pay” plan for garbage pickup is “disappointing.”

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Council had initially approved a pay-as-you-throw waste utility, but the decision was reversed on Monday when Coun. Darren Hill withdrew his support for it.

READ MORE: Saskatoon city council throws out pay-as-you-throw garbage utility

SWRC board member Sheri Praski said people are going to pay for it in the end with a tax increase.

It means that for now, at least, garbage pickup is going to be paid for mostly by property taxes, as it’s been for decades.

The problem, said Praski, is the system is underfunded in Saskatoon. She said garbage collection costs the city roughly $20 million per year, but taxes and landfill fees only bring in about $16 million.

“We’re underfunded, we’re either going to have to increase taxes, or we’re going to go a user pay model, there’s two choices really,” she told Global News.

“It’s either a tax increase where everyone, those who are composting, recycling, reducing consumption … are going to pay for those who are extremely wasteful and don’t care. That’s what the tax model we have today does. Or there’s the ability to put it onto a utility bill and people pay by volume.”

WATCH BELOW: Researcher calls Saskatoon’s garbage utility fees a ‘step in the right direction’

Praski used to work for the city, and she said she often ran into the attitude that garbage processing is free.

“People would say garbage is free, waste is free, and there is that understanding out there, but it is not true, there is a very high cost to garbage,” she said.

She believes the user pay model is actually fairer.

“It’s fairness, giving people control, and letting them make the choice to reduce, and without that people don’t tend to think about it,” she said.

READ MORE: Coun. Darren Hill withdraws support for pay-as-you-throw garbage utility

She believes much of the push-back from the public on the plan is simply a dislike of change.

“I think it’s purely change – anything environmental there seems to be that hesitation, there’s that very small vocal few who want to stall it, that seems to be what ruled the day here,” Praski said.

Council has directed the administration to come up with new options for paying for garbage collection.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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