Saskatoon’s city councillors are in agreement that something needs to be done about garbage collection in the city.
But they say they need more information before diving into an administration-proposed “pay as you throw” garbage utility and curbside compost collection program.
Councillors voted 7-3 on Monday in favour of developing a program to take waste management off property tax bills and move to charging homeowners based on how big their garbage bin is.
They also voted 8-2 in favour of developing a mandatory composting program.
The decisions allow administration to keep researching the financial implications of the new utility. Implementing the new system will still require another vote by council.
The proposed program doesn’t have an estimated cost yet, but administration had requested $8.5 million to begin purchasing green bins for citywide compost collection.
Administration officials had hoped to get the carts purchased in time to have the program up and running for 2019. However, the funding request was denied, with several councillors saying they need to know more before making such a large financial commitment.
“We’re putting the cart before the horse,” Ward 3 Coun. Ann Iwanchuk said, noting the city still has other waste diversion options available – such as the construction of a “recovery park” at the landfill for recycling.
More information is expected to be presented at a city council meeting in September.
While the vote for funding green bins was deferred to September, council did approve $1.6 million in funding for administration to continue planning for a garbage utility.
Ward 2’s Hilary Gough said the city has to accept the “financial reality” of Saskatoon’s current waste management program, which has been chronically underfunded through city budgets.
Ward 10 Coun. Zach Jeffries pushed to get the implementation of the new program pushed to later votes. But with administration pegging the cost of building a new landfill at $126 million, he agreed action has to be taken on waste diversion.
“The status quo is not an option,” he said.
Jeffries brought up a story often told by former premier Brad Wall, about people in a Tim Horton’s lineup passing the bill to the person behind them until a 16-year-old is stuck buying everyone’s coffee.
“We don’t want future generations paying for this,” he said, suggesting waste management costs would only increase the longer council took to act.
Iwanchuk and Coun. Troy Davies voted against the development of the compost program, while Coun. Randy Donauer joined them to vote against developing the bin-based garbage utility.
City council will debate the garbage utility program again in September.