Toronto city council has approved a new pay-as-you-throw garbage collection system that will charge Torontonians based on the amount of trash they produce. Residents will be required to purchase one of four bins ranging in cost from C$209 to C$360 annually once the system takes effect in the late summer of 2008.

The user-pay program passed by a vote of 26 to 18 after a lengthy debate will result in a system that is similar to ones already in place in Vancouver, Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco. A number of councillors who voted against the new system suggested it is nothing more than a tax increase.

“This will be paying for other programs in solid waste management,” said councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong. “It is a tax by stealth.”

“It is not a hidden tax,” countered councillor Glen De Baeremaeker, who also chairs the city‘‘s public works and infrastructure committee. “This is an in-your-face tax,” he said, adding residents will be rewarded for reducing the amount of garbage they put out to be collected.

The city wants to encourage recycling so that 70% of garbage in the city is diverted from landfill by 2010. “This is an investment,” said Mayor David Miller, an enthusiastic supporter of the user-pay system. “There will be long-term savings.”

The small C$209 container holds the equivalent of one green garbage bag, to be picked up every two weeks. The C$360 container is large enough to hold 4.5 garbage bags.

The city intends to provide a C$209 annual credit on the water and solid waste bill of a residence, so if a family managed to use the smallest container there would be no additional costs. Apartment buildings and condominiums would be subject to an overall fee per building, which would depend on the amount of total garbage that is collected. City staff predict the plan will generate an additional C$54-million in revenue, because most homes would be using larger containers.

Geoff Rathbone, acting general manager of solid waste management services for the City of Toronto, said the additional money would be used to make the department more of a “self funding” operation and to expand green bin and blue box programs. Increasing the green bin program in apartment buildings and condominiums is a priority of the new system, Mr. De Baeremaeker said. He suggested there will be an incentive for condominium boards to ensure that residents increase their recycling efforts. “If you recycle now and use green bins, you will pay less on your common fees,” Mr. De Baermaeker said.

Toronto will be among the first cities in North America to have green bins in multi-unit dwellings “at this level,” he added.

Even if residents end up paying more, they will also receive enhanced collection of their garbage and recycling items, said Mr. Miller, who described the new system as “pickup plus.” Council voted on a number of amendments to the new user pay system. One motion that passed narrowly, asked the waste management department to determine if the lowest price of C$209 per year can be reduced.

A motion to improve green bins so that they can “no longer be opened by raccoons,” passed by a vote of 43 to 2.

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #27-2007-July 06, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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