Ottawa – council urges garbage fee

City residents in Ottawa, Canada should pay for the waste they create, says a city staff report that is already getting mixed reviews from members of council.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the city should “develop strategies to ensure waste-management costs are recovered on a user-pay basis,” says a staff report recommendation, which will go to council’s environmental services committee on Tuesday. The vast majority of garbage pickup costs are currently covered by property taxes.

According to city utilities director Pat McNally, the options to achieve a user-pay system are:

a direct billing system such as the one used by cable companies and utilities

a programme where you pay for garbage bag tags

a weight-based system

The status quo is also an option, he added. It’s up to committee and council to determine the best method, Mr. McNally said. Mayor Bob Chiarelli strongly disagreed with any kind of direct billing for garbage pickup. “I don’t support a garbage tax,” Mr. Chiarelli said. “There will be no increase in user fees or taxes.”

The mayor called the report speculation, and said it doesn’t speak for council. “People are taxed out and fed up,” he said. Residents are already recycling and diverting a considerable amount of garbage, Mr. Chiarelli said.

The report says some communities have already taken garbage costs out of property-tax bills. “Charging households for waste management services based on a flat fee utility approach enables householders to better understand the cost to provide waste management services rather than information being buried in the property bill,” the report said. The cost for the average Ontario householder for waste pickup is between C$10 and C$16 a month, the report said.

“Compared with other services, waste management is relatively inexpensive, especially when the level of service and number of diversion programs offered are taken into consideration,” said the report, submitted to the committee by Rosemarie Leclair, the city’s manager for transportation, utilities and public works.

The city’s long-range financial plan suggests a user-fee policy, the report said. Innes Councillor Rainer Bloess supports the move, saying that it will make taxpayers aware of the cost of their refuse removal. But if direct billing takes place, he said, he wants a corresponding drop in property taxes. Bay Councillor Alex Cullen hasn’t made up his mind, but is leaning toward direct billing.

Mr. Cullen feels that the bill would reduce the amount of garbage created. But he believes direct billing would meet popular resistance. In addition to a user fee for garbage pickup, the report recommends the city get out of the refuse removal business for industrial, commercial and institutional operations. Out of about 28,000 businesses in the city, the municipality only collects garbage at about 3,500 locations.

Other provisions of the city’s waste-management study include: setting a minimum target for waste recycling and diversion at 40 per cent; promoting consultation and education to boost waste diversion; retaining ownership of the city’s two landfill sites; and considering exporting residential waste.

Ano da Publicação: 2003
Fonte: WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #10-2003: March 22, 2003
Autor: Kit Strange (Warmer Bulletin)
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