Toronto’s garbage collection rate will stay the same for most Torontonians — but those homeowners currently receiving a small rebate for using the very smallest grey bin could wind up paying extra for garbage collection.
Toronto’s budget chief Mike Del Grande wouldn’t commit to removing the $2.84 rebate as his committee got its first look at the solid waste budget. But he has asked staff for a briefing note to come to the Monday budget meeting explaining the rebate and what it might take to remove it.
“It doesn’t seem logical that it’s a freebie on your garbage collection,” said Del Grande at the meeting, who also questioned the wisdom of freezing garbage rates for the second year in a row.
The rate-based garbage collection system was one that was approved under Mayor David Miller – taking garbage collection off of property tax and turning it into a pay-as-you-throw service similar to water.
Homeowners pay for garbage collection annually based upon the size of bin they have. The extra large bin sees residents pay $204.36 a year; the medium-sized bins cost $47.93 a year. And the smallest bins actually provide a credit to homeowners on their water/garbage bill of $2.84.
When it was introduced, the credit was intended as an incentive to encourage homeowners to divert more garbage and only throw out the equivalent of one bag of garbage every two weeks.
Del Grande said he’s wondering if the marketing incentive isn’t misplaced.
“I don’t know if that’s marketing– the whole program started off saying that if you produce a little bit of garbage we’ll give you a little something back. The marketing side has to look at the realistic side,” he said.
The city’s solid waste strategy came under attack from critics on and off council for failing to advance the city’s target of reaching 70 per cent of diversion of waste from landfill sites.
“For the third year in a row this administration has refused to put any money into expanding our recycling programs,” said Parkdale-High Park Councillor Gord Perks. “We’re stuck at the same recycling rate that we had before this mayor came in and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be making any progress.”
Current diversion rates are hovering around 50 per cent, and Public Works and Infrastructure Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong admitted that over the last two years the city has done little to advance recycling, concentrating instead on contracting out solid waste collection in neighbourhoods west of Yonge Street.
“We’ve been focussed on the contracting out project,” he said. “That was something most residents said we had a mandate to move forward on and we’ve been really focussing on trying to get that right. Now that it’s successful and we’ve got a number of months under our belt to show the complaints have gone down, we’re going to move to the next step.”
According to a staff report, complaints have dropped considerably since Green For Life’s trucks began collecting garbage in the new neighbourhoods this summer. At the beginning, complaints were 312 a week. By mid-October, that number was down to 33.