Thunder Bay

Proposed changes to how Thunder Bay pays for garbage, recycling on council agenda

Thunder Bay city councillors are expected to be talking trash at their Monday evening meeting. A report is slated to go to council tonight that recommends the implementation of a long-term financial plan for the city's solid waste and recycling programs.

Council slated to discuss plan that would see taxes pay for recycling, dump fees for landfill projects

A report is slated to go to Thunder Bay city council Monday that would implement a long-term financial plan for solid waste and recycling programs. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Thunder Bay city councillors are expected to be talking trash at their Monday evening meeting.

A report is slated to go to council tonight that recommends the implementation of a long-term financial plan for the city's solid waste and recycling programs.

One change in the proposed plan is in how recycling efforts are funded — currently, tipping fees collected at the landfill site pay for the program. Administration wants to see that cost covered by property taxes, with dump fees going towards the maintenance of, and projects at, the landfill.

It's a model that more municipalities are adopting, said Jason Sherband, the manager of Thunder Bay's solid waste and recycling services.

"The landfill site should support the landfill site, but you're raising fees to fund a landfill operation and fund your waste diversion programming and that model, fundamentally, doesn't work anymore."

The report from city administrators shows the recommendation would add $1.75 million to the tax levy in 2017, or less than one per cent of the 2016 levy.

Multi-million dollar projects required at landfill

Part of the reason for recommending that tipping fees go to landfill projects is that there are a number of them looming.

The report shows that expansions are required for the treatment system that deals with water that leaches out of the trash, as well as the collection system of harmful gas.

In addition, site capping and general maintenance projects are also required.

This work is mandated under provincial legislation, Sherband said, adding that using tipping fees to fund these projects will greatly reduce the amount of money the city will have to borrow to complete them.

Fear of raising dump fees too high

Less garbage goes over the scales at the dump these days, Sherband said, owing to a number of factors, including the success of recycling and other diversion programs — such as e-waste collection and tire recycling, and packing containers now being generally smaller and lighter.
Jason Sherband is the manager of solid waste and recycling services for the City of Thunder Bay. (Cathy Alex/CBC)

Offsetting this by raising fees too much can make things worse.

"When you start increasing tipping fees, you, in essence, almost price yourself out of business," he said, adding that there are other landfill sites in the area people can go to instead.

The city has raised fees by over $20-per-tonne, over the last five years, the report shows.

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