Saskatoon councillor wants to revisit compost decision

One Saskatoon city councillor wants to have another look at the city's proposed composting program before it becomes mandatory city-wide.

Coun. Randy Donauer says if compost program goes ahead as planned, people will face big tax hike next year

'I'm not wanting to kill the program. What I'm wanting to do is to take a look at how we implement the program,' says Ward 5 Coun. Randy Donauer. (CBC)

One Saskatoon city councillor wants to have another look at the city's proposed composting program before it becomes mandatory city-wide.

As it stands, the composting program would mean every household in Saskatoon will get a green bin for things like yard and food waste. 

The city would pick up the bin the same way it does garbage and recycling. 

That program could roll out as early as next year. But the speed at which the city is moving ahead with the program worries Coun. Randy Donauer.

"I'm not wanting to kill the program. What I'm wanting to do is to take a look at how we implement the program," he said. 

While he initially voted in favour of the composting plan, Donauer now wants council to have another look. That's because, he says, he doesn't want to scare people off the idea of composting with the possibility of a big tax hike in 2020.

Right now, he says, that tax hike could be as high as eight or nine per cent — almost half of it a direct result of implementing a full-scale composting program that would cost, at minimum, $8.2 million. 

"That would be quite a shock to the public and I don't know if there's much appetite for that," Donauer said. 

Program could be phased in

Instead, Donauer thinks the program should be phased in over time so that the initial price tag isn't as high.

And it looks like that is something the city is considering. 

A city report going to council Monday does mention phasing in the program, but there are no details on what that will look like. 

What that report does recommend is that the city hire a private company to operate the compost program, and that it be paid for through property taxes. 

Donauer's motion to put the program on hold, however, could make all of that moot point. That motion not only calls for the organic pickup to be put on hold, but also for the implementation of a pilot project. It also calls for the city consider allowing people who already do backyard composting to opt out. 

"If we do this all in one year I think we're in a lot of trouble, and we could take what could be a very popular program and we could kind of sour people on it if we don't do it right," Donauer said. 


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