The City of Saskatoon is a step closer to introducing a new pay-as-you-throw garbage collection system.
Councillors on the environment, utilities and corporate services committee voted Monday in favour of the proposed system, which would charge users based on the size of garbage bin they put out.
The committee also passed a recommendation to add a green cart program for collecting organics, such as food waste and yard trimmings.
Ward 4 Coun. Troy Davies voted against the recommendations.
Following presentations from administration, he told his fellow committee members he didn’t have enough information to feel comfortable voting in favour.
“Until I have answers, I can’t make decisions on things. And I still today, I don’t think I have those answers to effectively make that decision moving forward for me personally,” he said
Davies said he needed to know more about specific costs of setting up the new utility and green cart program and what monthly rates would be for residents.
He said he also needs to see a plan for preventing illegal dumping.
“Right now I still don’t see anything that’s effectively going to address the two major neighbourhoods where I see this happening daily, and hear about it quite a bit,” Davies said.
With presenters saying they would need until August or September to report back with specifics, Davies said he’d be willing to change his vote once he has more details.
Ward 1 Coun. Darren Hill supported most of the six recommendations tied to the new program.
He said he couldn’t back an item calling for up to $8.5 million to purchase the green carts needed for an organics program until a more detailed plan is in place.
“I would never allocate money from my household for something that I don’t know exactly what I’m buying or how I’m going to use it, so I won’t do that with the taxpayers money either.”
However, Hill still voted in favour of other recommendations tied to the new program, saying it’s a necessary step to get administration working on a more detailed proposal for taxpayers.
“It’s hard to put all of the components in such as pricing and program until there’s a bit of direction provided,” he said.
Hill insisted the new program would have to come with a tax reduction so it wouldn’t double-bill ratepayers.
“It’s simply a reduction on your property tax bill. So (the city doesn’t) see that money. That money will just not be collected. And then you will be charged whatever that utility fee is,” he said.
That said, Hill also cautioned the new level of service will almost certainly come with new costs if it’s implemented.
“In all honesty to the citizens: it’s going to be more than what you’re paying now,” he said.
The discussions around waste management come as the City of Saskatoon sits less than a third of the way to its goal of keeping 70 per cent of what’s collected out of the landfill by 2023.
Currently, just under 22 per cent of all waste is diverted from the landfill.
Ward 8 Coun. Sarina Gersher noted a new landfill is expected to cost around $125 million to build. She added that the reserve fund set up to start putting cash away for the project has been underfunded. As such, she said it simply is not an option to leave things as they are.
“Regardless if we’re doing a waste utility and switching from our property taxes to a utility bill, We have to resolve our under-funding of waste.”
Monday’s committee vote means the matter will move on to a full vote by the entire city council later this month.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel.