City mulls cutting garbage pickup to apartments, condos to meet budget demands

The city’s water and waste department is looking at cutting garbage pickup service to multi-family units in order to stay within budget targets for the next four years. 

Water and waste department considering several service cuts

In order to stay within budget targets, the city's water and waste department may stop garbage collection to multi-family buildings in Winnipeg. The proposal came up as part of a budget deliberation meeting this week. (Terry Stapleton/CBC)

The city's water and waste department is looking at cutting garbage pickup service to multi-family dwellings in order to stay within budget targets for the next four years. 

As part of the city's budget deliberations, the department was challenged to stay within a two per cent increase on operational spending 

To stay within targets, the department would have to cut $3.2 million in 2020, $4.5 million in 2021 and 2022 and $7.1 million in 2023.

To do it would mean a reduction of 16 full-time employees over four years, and reductions in service in several areas, including the changes to garbage pickup for apartment buildings and condos, water and waste managers said during a budget deliberation meeting Thursday. 

Among the cost-saving measures, city staff are looking at:

  • Reducing 24-hour emergency coverage from two crews to one, which could delay response times.
  • Ending some grants.
  • Discontinuing the residential toilet replacement program.
  • Discontinuing the annual water main cleaning program, which could increase incidents of brown water.
  • Reducing the land drainage sewer maintenance program.

The cuts to garbage collection would impact about 1,600 locations, and would mean property owners would be responsible for hiring their own garbage collection, water and waste director Moira Geer said. 

Tense meetings, tough decisions

During the meeting, there was a lively exchange between Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood's councillor Kevin Klein and water and waste managers.

Klein wants a look at detailed expenses for the department, including flights, travel, phones, fuel, advertising, and other expenses — not the program cuts staff had outlined.

"Every item in here has an impact on taxpayers," Klein said. "These are great items to identify to put the fear in people."

"In any world I've ever been in, we look at expenses … maybe we need to be looking at that a lot harder than we are."

Water and waste director Moira Geer told Klein the department constantly looks at reducing its expenses for items such as telephones or travel, and said the suggested cuts were chosen as "the least impactful on residents."

Still, the cuts proposed by water and waste would not meet the targets set by the city's budget working group, so managers are also looking at scaling back some capital projects to cover the shortfall.

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, the chairperson of the city's water and waste committee, stressed that nothing has been decided yet, but admitted council has some tough decisions to make. 

"I know we're going through some tough times. This is the first process of the budget, so we'll take time to deliberate," she said. 

With files from Sean Kavanagh


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