The City of Saskatoon is starting to talk trash with businesses, industry and institutions.
As city council prepares to vote later this month on big changes to trash collection for single-family homes, the city administration is set for discussions with the sector that generates the most waste.
Those talks will focus on mandatory recycling and compost programs for businesses and institutions such as post-secondary schools and hospitals. The engagement is expected to take about six months, according to a report to be considered by city council’s environment, utilities and corporate services committee on Tuesday.
Keith Moen, executive director of the North Saskatoon Business Association, said his membership is being surveyed on the city’s initiative. However, most businesses have contracted private haulers to handle waste, he noted.
“In other words, it seems like they’re over-regulating unnecessarily,” Moen said in an email.
Darla Lindbjerg, president of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said she looks forward to consulting with city hall, but it took Calgary two years to come up with a program for the same sector.
She said she does not think it will take that long in Saskatoon, but she agrees most businesses already have made arrangements for waste handling.
“I think we need questions answered before we raise any flags of concern,” Lindbjerg said in an interview.
About two-thirds of the waste generated in Saskatoon comes from the business and institutional sector, including 41,750 tonnes of organic material and 33,700 tonnes of material that could be recycled, the City of Saskatoon report says. This includes construction and demolition material.
A 2017 environmental survey by the city found support from both the sector and residents to have city hall assume a leadership role in waste diversion for the business-institutional sector, the report says.
On Oct. 22, council is scheduled to vote on a set of initiatives that would shift payment for trash collection from property taxes to user fees for single-family homes. Fees would be based on the size of each trash cart in an effort to reduce the amount of material sent to the landfill.
Council will also vote on introducing a mandatory curbside collection program with a new green cart for organic material like food and yard waste.
Some have complained about an imbalance since a drop in overall property taxes would mean businesses would pay less, while single-family homes would have utility fees imposed.
A proposal from the city is expected by the end of next year, but no new business-institutional programs would likely be implemented before the 2020-2021 budget, the report says.
The city introduced curbside recycling collection for single-family homes in 2013 and followed up with a program for apartments and townhouses in 2015.
City hall has set a goal to divert 70 per cent of the material from the landfill by 2023. The city’s diversion rate was 22.8 per cent last year.