Winnipeg waste diversion target difficult to meet, Mayor Brian Bowman admits

The City of Winnipeg likely won't reach its waste diversion targets by 2020, Mayor Brian Bowman says. He doubts the city will be able to divert 50 per cent of waste from the landfill by that date without an organic waste collection strategy, and that is years away.

'I do believe we are not going to meet those targets set by previous council,' mayor says

Mayor Brian Bowman says Winnipeg likely won't meet its waste diversion target for 2020. (Trevor Bryne/CBC)

Winnipeg likely won't meet its target of diverting 50 per cent of its waste from landfill by 2020, Mayor Brian Bowman admits.

Bowman was pessimistic about meeting that target as the city begins the process of asking waste management companies for requests for proposals for new garbage and recycling contracts.

Those contracts do not include provisions for organic waste pickup, widely understood to be key to reducing greenhouse gases in landfills.

The city is planning public consultations on waste collection, including pickup of organic waste, but that's still being organized. Fees for pickup of yard, kitchen and animal waste have provoked a backlash by some.

Winnipeg has fallen behind many other cities in upgrading its waste collection system and that has an effect on climate change efforts, Bowman admitted.

"Winnipeg is not leading this across Canada, as you know," he said.

A 2011 motion by city council set waste diversion targets that likely will not be met, the mayor said.

"I do believe we are not going to meet those targets set by previous council, but part of city policy right now, without an organics program. We are trying to act as diligently as possible," Bowman said.

Bowman supports targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and believes climate change issues must be dealt with, but acknowledged the cost of initiatives such as organic waste pickup (estimated earlier this year as $55 to $100 per household annually) are a challenge.

"The costing issue is hugely important and shouldn't be diminished in the sense that we want to get as much value as possible. Cost is one consideration, but other considerations — I think the more considerations council has for selecting one or two contracts is more preferential," he said.

Bowman is waiting to hear back from a climate change working group struck to review city policies and make recommendations.

"I'm open to anything that can improve the quality of service, the value for taxpayers, if we can," Bowman said.