This Week At City Hall: Waste Plan At Last, Water Rate Debate

Monday, December 20
CITY COUNCIL (5:30 pm): It’s your last chance to make a city council meeting in 2010! Planning to attend? Couldn’t pick a better night for it as the year’s ending with a thrilling — and LOOOOONG — agenda. Most notably, budgets aplenty are coming forward. Drafts of the city’s capital and operating budgets for 2011 will be made public, then tabled until they can be debated sometime in January. (Sorry, don’t know the date yet.) But before that, the 2011 Water And Sewer Utility budget will be debated and either amended or passed. This is the budget that proposes nine per cent rate hikes for the next three years which we covered in the current issue of the p-dog so I won’t bore you by writing more on it.

Also up for consideration this week is the much anticipated implementation plan for the new Waste Plan. Looks like the plan is to get the new system — which includes a property-line recycling program — by 2015. Why can’t we have it up and running sooner?

Well, the big thing is there currently isn’t a recycling facility large enough to handle the amount of garbage we’re going to try to divert from our landfill. Before we can have a mandatory, city-wide recycling program, we’re going to have to build one of those. Plus, a new billing system has to be devised and a whole new set of business practices organized. Waste Management has their work cut out for them. Council does too. The plan will require $16 million for capital over the next five years — all drawn from the Landfill Reserve fund — and the report warns that if the plan’s future actions are not resourced by the city there could be serious consequences.

Things you can expect from the new waste management system:

A flat fee for garbage pick-up: The current number being bandied about is $125 per household. The administration acknowledges the problem there is that a flat fee won’t encourage people to reduce their garbage but it looks like going to a pay-by-volume system would be too complicated on the timeline they’re planning. The report says they’re considering rolling out smaller garbage carts that households can opt to have in exchange for a lower pick-up fee — that would be a way to approximate a pay-by-volume system. But, those won’t be available until 2016 or later.

New garbage carts: If, like me, you have one of those big metal dumpsters out back of your place, the plan is to phase those out over the next five years. They’ll be replaced with the rolling, plastic carts.

Less crap in our landfill: The goal is to achieve a 40 per cent diversion rate by 2015.

Incidentally, because the Landfill Reserve is being used to fund the start-up of the new Waste Plan, two projects will have to be put on hold: Phase Two of the Landfill Gas Extraction System and the final capping off of our current landfill. Also, council will have to resist the urge to draw funds from that reserve for other projects.

Another huge project up for discussion on Monday is the West Industrial Lands Secondary Plan. That encompasses the Global Transportation Hub and Intermodal Facility projects you’ve been hearing so much about. Man, is the project ever huge. I had no idea till I started poking around on Google maps to get a sense of the scale. I suggest checking out the report if you’re curious.

Also on Monday’s agenda, the Mosaic company’s property tax exemption for the space they’ll be renting in Hill Tower III, the McCallum Hill Centre Parkade tax exemption, the Vic East widening plan, some park renaming, and so much more.

And that’s it for the week. You can download the complete agenda and most of the reports from the city’s website. Mind you, because the budget hasn’t been officially released yet, you should wait until after the mayor’s Monday morning press conference — that’s when the 2011 budget will be available for download.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

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