Council endorses composting collection program, but defers on how to pay for it

Saskatoon City Council passed a city-wide organics collection program on Monday, but how it will be funded is still up in the air.

Debate centres on whether to have it on property tax bill or as a separate utility

Saskatoon City Council will prolong the debate on how to fund a new organics collection program until next council meeting. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

Saskatoon city councillors endorsed a city-wide compost collection program, but exactly how that program will be paid for is still up in the air.

While virtually all councillors were supportive of an organics program, the controversy is how it will be funded—through property taxes or billed as a separate utility.

Councillors voted 7-4 in favour of the program, but then deferred a motion to have curbside organic and waste collection be funded as a utility. That decision won't happen until next council meeting in order to get more information from administration.

If the compost program is funded as a utility, residents would get a separate bill each month—the same way they do now for the curbside recycling program. 

Councillor Darren Hill voted against the organics program because of the question of how it would be paid for.

Hill said people he has been speaking to want it on the property tax and not funded as a utility.

The organics program will be a year-round curbside residential collection for food and yard waste.

The city estimates the program should divert 26,000 tonnes of organic waste from the landfill.

The city wants to divert 70 per cent of waste away from the landfill. (Josh Pagé/CBC)

If the program were implemented in combination with the proposed changes to the garbage program, it's estimated that would add 23 years of life to the landfill.

The city wants to reach a goal of 70 per cent waste diversion by 2020.

Need to do something

Mayor Charlie Clark voted for the organics program and said the status quo is not a good option.

"We will not be kicking a bigger problem down the road," he said.

Councillor Ann Iwanchuk said besides being concerned residents will be charged whether they throw anything in the garbage or not, council hasn't addressed the commercial usage of the landfill.

"We're penalizing our citizens who aren't the root of the problem," she said.

Councillor Mairin Loewen voted for the organics collection and said there is a sense of urgency to do something.

"We have a funding problem and an environmental problem which happen to have a fairly viable solution," which she said is the utility model.

Council could to make a decision on the future of the garbage program next month.