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Ward 11 News: Black Bin Proposed Changes

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Ward 11 official websiteWill Calgarians be left holding the (garbage) bag?

One of the issues that I hear about most frequently is about waste and recycling services and how one size does not fit all. Calgarians want value for money and, so far, it has been a difficult balance to strike.
The needs of Calgarians vary, with some families needing more capacity and some needing less. The black bin service was scaled back to pick up every other week, while blue (recycling) and green (compost) are collected each week.
While not everyone is pleased with the pick-up frequencies of the various bins, one thing that we can all agree on is that nobody wants to pay more fees. When the black bin frequency was reduced, the savings did not transparently flow through to Calgarians. In other words, service levels decreased but the fees remained the same.
This week, a Council committee will discuss offering three sizes of black bins (garbage/landfill bins). Choices range from a larger version (360 litres), the current version (240 litres), or a smaller version (120 litres). The estimated cost to the City to purchase those different sized bins is approximately $10 million. Calgarians would also be given the opportunity to purchase tags that would allow for an additional bags of garbage to be picked-up.
While I am in support of exploring options and a pay-for-use system, in the end, I am concerned that introducing this new system will ultimately cost taxpayers more money.
I will give you an example.  Recently, Council voted in favour of taking the cost for waste and recycling out of property tax bills, and instead charging them on a utility bill as separate fees. The idea was that property taxes would be reduced by the same amount that fees would be going up. Calgarians would not be out any money. While this sounds good in principal, Calgarians just ended up paying more because the property taxes were not reduced as much as the fees that are now being charged. I voted against this.
I am always in support of giving Calgarians more service level options but I am skeptical that this varying black bin service will offer value for money.
Ultimately, the trucks and staff are still deployed whether or not you have a small bin or the largest bin so there are no cost savings there. Fixed costs like these account for about 75% of the service. Taxpayers would also be on the hook for the purchase of the additional varying-sized black bins to the tune of $10 million, and we would have to figure out what to do with the old bins. Also factor in the additional program and staffing costs, not to mention the potential of increased contamination of blue and green bins rendering their contents unusable, and this idea doesn’t seem so appealing after all.
I have been hearing from a lot of you about this issue in the past few days and your comments make a lot of sense. Unless suddenly new information is available at committee to address these points, I am not in support of different sized black bins or new fees because, in the end, I think that Calgarians will just end up paying more. I am in support of introducing additional garbage bag pick up if you want to buy a tag. That is an individual choice and I believe a fair solution for those who have might extra waste from time to time without having to store waste for an additional two weeks or having to take a trip to the landfill.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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