Homeowners in Saskatoon could end up paying a lot more for their garbage collection if the city moves towards a “pay as you throw” (PAYT) utility program.
The city released reports late Wednesday afternoon, offering options on how shifting curbside collection away from property taxes and on to a monthly bill would work.
The goal of the program would be to increase waste diversion away from the city landfill from the current 23 per cent to 70 per cent by 2023 — prolonging the life cycle of the landfill.
The plan is to implement the PAYT system through different-sized garbage bins, with the largest being the current size provided to homes — 360 litres, or 96 gallons.
There would also be a medium-sized cart at 240 litres (65 gallons) and a small size at 160 litres (48 gallons).
A 240-litre organics cart for food waste and yard clippings would also be provided to households through the program.
Several options for pricing of the utility are laid out in reports set to be presented to city councillors on the environment, utilities and corporate services committee on Monday.
All versions of the program would take 3.5 per cent off annual property tax bills for homeowners, representing $75 in savings for the average home priced at $371,000.
However, the recommended option of a “phased waste diversion” pricing strategy would have a base price of $18 a month — or $216 annually — for the smallest size bin in year one, with no increases for the first three years of the program.
The medium and large bins would have initial rates of $19.70 and $22.80 per month respectively, with prices increasing over the first three years.
By 2023, the monthly price of a medium-sized garbage bin would be $24.50 per month — an annual cost of $294. The annual cost of a large-sized bin would be $434.50, with a monthly bill of $36.50.
The prices are geared towards encouraging homeowners to use the smaller bin sizes, which would in turn lead to more diversion to organics bins and recycling.
While the organics collection is included in those variable monthly bills, the $5.65 charge for recycling is not.
Russ Munro, city director of water and waste stream, said the monthly costs are in line with other cities in western Canada that have moved to waste as a utility.
He added if the city does nothing, the current model of waste collection won’t be sustainable and the opening of a new landfill would end up “costing residents more in the end.”
“To be clear, these are things that are going to help us reach the 2023 waste diversion goal,” he said.
The proposed plan also includes reducing summer curbside collection to a bi-weekly schedule, making it the same year-round.
Munro said their information suggests most homeowners don’t fill their bins enough for weekly collection.
The proposed system also comes with an ask for $13.6 million in capital funds so administration can begin purchasing the new garbage and organics bins, and to buy more side-loader collection trucks. The funds would be borrowed against the utility and paid back over 10 years.
In addition, operating costs for waste collection are expected to increase between $10.5 million and $12.7 million over 2019 levels, with the money being collected through user fees in the first year of the program.
If councillors approve the reports on Monday, the waste utility would be considered at the city council meeting on Sept. 24.
—With files from 650 CKOM’s Keenan Sorokan and Global Saskatoon.