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City panel studies waste pickup fees

Councillors consider proposal to charge for collection at apartments and condos

Globe and Mail - September 5, 2001
By James Rusk — Municipal Affairs Reporter

Paying taxes may not be enough to get the garbage picked up from Toronto's apartment buildings and condominiums.

Council's budget committee will consider a report next week that proposes that the city impose a fee for garbage collection on multiresidential buildings.

The report does not spell out what the fees would be, but if it makes it through the council approval process in the next few weeks, staff would begin public consultations and have details ready by January.

While the staff report also refers to the possibility of making owners of single-family dwellings pay, Councillor Betty Disero, chairwoman of the works committee, said it should not be interpreted as applying to house owners.

The proposed fee is intended for multiresidential units only, Ms. Disero said in an interview. "What they want to do is to charge for garbage and for recycling for apartments."

The report says that a fee could be charged for collecting both garbage destined for landfill and recyclable materials, or for garbage alone. A fee for garbage alone, would give multiresidential-building owners an incentive to increase the amount of waste that a building recycles, the report adds.

Under the new waste-collection bylaw, the 5,000 multiresidential complexes receiving garbage pickup must provide recycling facilities for their buildings and separate the waste materials, as people in houses do.

But Brad Butt, executive director of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, said it would be punitive to make people in multiresidential buildings pay extra for garbage collection.

"Don't treat people who live in a highrise building differently than those who have curbside pickup," Mr. Butt said.

He said that apartment-building owners already pay taxes at 4.5 times the rate of single-family and condominium owners, and that any fee would eventually be passed on to tenants through the rent guideline rate increases.

Sol York, president of Del Property Management Inc., the building management arm of condominium giant Tridel Corp., observed that the proposed fee overlooks the fact that it is more efficient to pick up garbage at one stop at a condominium building than from curbside.

Councillor Paul Sutherland, vice-chairman of the budget committee, said he would fight the proposal. "There is no way I'm supporting that."

Describing garbage collection as a core city service, he said, "If you can't get that for your taxes, what do you get?"

He said that if council starts charging for core services, the fees will soar while council asserts it is holding taxes down. "Councillors would be smart to stop this in the bud right now," he said.

Councillor David Soknacki said he is concerned that the proposal includes single-family dwellings and fears the idea could set a trend that would see owners charged for basic services.

He said the proposal is the product of some "incredibly ambitious" targets the council's task force on waste diversion has set.

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