City should turf proposal to end garbage pickup, condo owners group says
Apartment and condo residents would pay for private waste pickup if budget recommendation goes through
A group representing condominium owners says a city budget recommendation to cut garbage collection at some multi-family buildings should be trashed.
The proposed cuts to city collection would make property owners responsible for hiring their own garbage collection and would impact about 1,600 locations in the city, water and waste director Moira Geer said in November.
"We have a lot of people who are in condominiums that are on fixed incomes, a lot of retired people, as well as a lot of younger people who are just starting out in their careers," said Alan Forbes, a director with the Manitoba chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute, which represented condominium owners.
"Having a big hit like that would be significant."
As part of the city's budget deliberations, the water and waste department was challenged to stay within a two per cent increase in operational spending, which means finding savings of $3.2 million in 2020, $4.5 million in 2021 and 2022 and $7.1 million in 2023.
The proposal calls for cuts to garbage collection at charitable and commercial locations as well.
Forbes, who owns a condominium with his wife in the city's Kildonan area, said each unit in his development could see its fees rise $190 a year.
Across the city, condo fees could go up $150 to $250 a year, depending on the location, he said.
Condo owners already pay for services such as garbage collection in their property taxes, he said.
"There is a larger property tax unfairness in the fact that we have to pay the same mill rates as single-family dwellings, and if you look a things like frontage levies ... there are a lot of things a single-family homeowner receives as services from the city, [but] we don't get those services," Forbes said.
The city's water and waste department is recommending the end of multi-family garbage collection, while at the same time negotiating a pilot project with the Canadian Union of Public Employees for a two-year pilot project to bring a portion of multi-family garbage collection in-house — done by city staff instead of by private contractors.
Forbes called the two public policy initiatives "especially strange, given where we are in this budget issue."
Mayor Brian Bowman was asked how the proposed cuts and the pilot project could exist at the same time.
He pointed out that the budget recommendations currently being heard aren't necessarily what will be in the recommendations to council when the budget is tabled on March 6.
"We'll do our part to to raise similar questions as well, so that … all of us can have a more accurate understanding of what's transpired so that we can make smart decisions going forward."
Forbes said his organization will press the city through the budget process next month to pull back from making condo owners pay for their own garbage pickup.
The city should be promoting density in neighbourhoods to meet climate change goals, not cutting services to high-density developments, he said.
"You can't do it unless you increase the density for residential living," Forbes said about cutting emissions. "It would provide an additional disincentive for people to buy a condo."