February 2019 Newsletter
Greetings Ward 14!
We are one month down in 2019. Here are your February newsletter topics.
Assessment Notices and My Online Tax Calculator
You only have about a month to inquire about or contest the assessed value of your property or business. The customer review period ends on March 12. You can find more information about that at calgary.ca/assessment, and you will also find a link to my online tax calculator a few clicks away.
In the Spring of 2018, it was brought to my attention that the City was displaying a rudimentary version of the online tax calculator on its website. Seeing what it could be, I shared it with as many constituents as possible, and asked for their thoughts. The message was clear: This is a good start, but it needs improvement.
So I found a funding source, asked our administration to implement changes from the feedback, and make overall improvements. We are now in the middle of a pilot project for the online tax calculator, and I want to hear what you think of it again.
The easiest way to find it is at calgary.ca/taxbreakdown. From there all you need to do is type in your 2019 property tax amount, and click “calculate”. It will show you how much of your tax bill is going to what, in both percentage and absolute terms. Click on “Details” to the right, and sub-categories will appear. Clicking on the name of any one of those sub-categories will take you to an in depth service description.
There has been a lot of talk about transparency lately. We definitely cannot claim to be transparent unless we are showing people where their money goes. I think you will find the new version of the tax calculator is much better at portraying what you actually get for your money.
Extended Producer Responsibility (A Very Special Project)
Alberta’s municipalities are tasked with finding ways to divert waste from limited landfill space. Taxpayers bear the cost of those diversion efforts. Extended Producer Responsibility removes the cost of recycling from rate-payers, and allows private industry to come up with better ways to reduce waste.
Simply put, EPR shifts the costs of managing recyclable materials from municipalities to producers—think Canadian Tire, Unilever, Walmart, London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys, Procter and Gamble, etc. This starts with a mandate to producers through provincial legislation. The goal is to divert waste from the limited landfill space that Alberta’s municipalities have available to them through recycling and reduction of waste. EPR removes the costs of recycling from rate-payers, and municipalities by putting the financial responsibility for recycling programs on producers. It also allows private industry to come up with better ways to reduce waste by putting operational responsibility for recycling programs on producers.
During the 2018 AUMA Convention and the Recycling of Alberta Conference, the Minister of Environment and Parks indicated that municipalities need to build grassroots support for an EPR paper and packaging program. Her statements were echoed by her staff at different meetings explaining that the province is interested in developing EPR programs, but for the provincial governments to move forward, the push must come from the bottom up, instead of the top down.
With the support of the City of Calgary’s Waste & Recycling department, I will be bringing a notice of motion to Calgary’s Council on February 4th, 2019. The motion will direct our administration to work with other interested parties to develop baseline research required for the development of an EPR program. It will also signal Calgary’s desire for EPR to the Provincial Government. This motion follows a complementary motion passed by the AUMA Board of Directors, and comes with the support of the Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance (CSSA)—an organization that manages provincial EPR programs in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.
Cities, and towns across the province have shown their support for a province-wide EPR program. So far Council members in Edmonton, Camrose, St. Albert, Airdrie, Brooks, Chestermere, Grande Prairie, Wetaskiwin, Whitecourt, Lloydminster, Fort Saskatchewan, Beiseker, and Banff have all committed to bringing up this topic. Most have already passed similar motions to mine. The Rural Municipalities of Alberta association will soon have passed a motion too.
The Provincial Government needs to hear that this is what we want. In 2016, producers provided more than $367 million to fund provincially‐regulated paper and packaging recycling across Canada. Alberta received $0. Establishing EPR here would change that. By some estimates, EPR could reduce spending on recycling by $63M annually for Alberta communities. Producers are already incorporating the costs of EPR in other provinces into their national product pricing. The fact that taxpayers here are funding Albertan recycling programs means that Albertans are currently paying for recycling TWICE when they buy a box of cereal, and paying for recycling programs ELSEWHERE.
In December, I made a call to the municipalities of Alberta to bring EPR to the attention of the Province. Now I am asking you to do the same. If you want to see EPR in Alberta, tell your MLA. You can find your MLA here.
The next Counciltalk is on February 23 at the Mid-Sun Community Centre. Visit calgary.ca/counciltalk, or read more at calgary.ca/ward14newsletter for the other Counciltalk dates, times, and locations.
-Councillor Peter Demong
Categories: Extended Producer Responsibility, Motions and Initiatives, Newsletter