City council decides to send organic waste program for review
Coun. Ross Eadie brought a motion to Winnipeg City Council, Thursday, to cancel the organic waste curbside pickup program.
Eadie argued the cost was just too high for low income residents, who he says didn’t have an opportunity to give their input on anything other than proposed costs outlined by the city.
“If you put too much burden on some of these older people, they could end up homeless because they can't afford to pay all the different fees were putting on them,” said Eadie.
As it stands, the proposed program would add a fee to Winnipeggers’ water bills.
It would cost homeowners as little as $55 to collect fruit and vegetables.
The cost for all food products is $60.
If food and pet waste was collected at the curb, the cost could reach as much as $100.
Two delegates spoke at council in favour of public consultation on the program, and how it would be paid for.
Jennifer Feschuk from the Green Action Centre said Winnipeg is behind the times when it comes to organic waste diversion.
Feschuk said Brandon began its program in 2010, Halifax in the 1990s.
She pointed to cities like Toronto, where she said the cost is worked into property taxes, and noted cost savings were found in that city where garbage pickup was reduced to every other week once organic waste pickup began.
“Winnipeg already has one of the lowest diversion rates in the country, less than 30 per cent,” Feschuk told city hall, “this is an embarrassment. I know we can do better.”
Eadie also raised concern about the program, arguing the city should first focus on commercial organic waste.
But Molly McCracken from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives was in favour of moving ahead with a residential program while an industrial one was studied.
“The time to act is now when residential waste collection contracts are up for renewal so that this activity can be built into the new contracts,” she said.
McCracken said a recent study showed 80 per cent of Winnipeggers were in favour of organic waste pickup.
Before council could vote on Eadie’s plan to trash the program, Coun. Gerbassi brought a motion to refer the program back to the city’s waste and water committee, which also serves as the environmental committee.
It was knocked down in a tie vote of seven councillors in favour, and seven against.
Coun. Allard, who missed the vote, brought forward the same motion.
His motion passed in a 9 to 6 vote.
The organic curbside pickup program will now be brought to the water and waste committee on April 14.