Calgary

Calgary advances plan for $3 'tag-a-bag' fee for excess garbage collection

Calgary is pressing ahead with a plan that, if approved, would see homeowners' monthly garbage fees slightly reduced and a new fee introduced for excess garbage pickup.

Plan would also see fixed collection fee reduced by 10 cents per month

A City of Calgary waste collection vehicle picks up a bin in this file photo. (CBC)

Calgary is pressing ahead with a plan that, if approved, would see homeowners' monthly garbage fees slightly reduced and a new fee introduced for excess garbage pickup.

On Wednesday, a city committee endorsed the "tag-a-bag" program, which would introduce a $3 fee for the collection of garbage bags that don't fit inside residents' black bins on a given collection cycle.

City staff are recommending that the monthly waste collection fee be reduced by 10 cents at the same time.

That reduction represents the current cost of picking up garbage that doesn't fit inside black bins, council heard.

During a typical collection cycle, city staff said, about four per cent of households put out additional garbage bags next to their black bins. These are currently picked up for no extra charge.

Council heard that kind of service is now rare in cities of Calgary's size, which typically charge an additional fee for excess garbage collection.

The "tag-a-bag" method would require residents to purchase tags to attach to excess garbage bags placed outside the black bin. Untagged bags would not be collected.

The proposal would still need to be approved by city council, as a whole, before it becomes a reality.

The plan endorsed by the committee on Wednesday recommends having the changes take effect in 2020.

High-tech pilot program as well

The committee also endorsed the idea of a pilot program to explore the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to charge for garbage collection in the future.

Calgary's black bins already contain RFID chips that are used to uniquely identify each bin, track its age and any maintenance that has been done to it during its life cycle.

The same chips could be used to develop a system where residents are charged each time their bin is picked up — and, conversely, not charged if they don't put the bin out during a particular collection cycle.

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