Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Toronto's New Pay-As-You-Throw Plan for Garbage

This blog has been pretty much dead for the past 15+ months. Sometimes I regret that. But I can't really imagine my life changing enough to get me back to continuous blogging. Still, occasionally something interesting comes up and I feel like writing a quick note. It won't be very often, so I suggest subscribing to an RSS feed and forgeting about it. (I use Bloglines.)

Anyway, I noted an article in the Globe and Mail today about Toronto's proposed new fee structure for garbage. Basically the plan is to:
  1. Remove waste management from the property tax system
  2. Give you a special City of Toronto garbage can that will be the only can you're allowed to use
  3. Charge you an amount dictated by the size of can that you select

The stated benefit is that this will encourage residents to recycle more or pay the consequences. The other significant benefit that will come once the province allows it is that people living in homes downtown won't have to pay more to have their garbage removed just because their property value is higher.

In the Globe article, City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is quoted complaining about the new rules. It's a bit strange to me, because critics on the right frequently claim to want to run government services more like "business", and that's exactly what this is.

The question I am left wondering about is whether people can opt out entirely. The smallest can they plan to offer is $209 per year for 75 litres (picked up every second week). What if I produce less garbage than that? What if I (or a neighbourhood cooperative) can responsibly dispose of our garbage for less than that price? Allowing people to opt out could really produce some interesting changes.

The other question I'm wondering about is whether they will step up enforcement of dumping bylaws.

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