Here’s some ways to fix a growing garbage problem

As your city councillor I would push for adjustments on how taxpayers foot the bill for garbage collection. The price as it is now is too high. And it hits ratepayers in a couple of ways, both directly and indirectly.

It’s a complicated patchwork system that needs improving, and ahead of Friday’s meeting of Council’s Utilities Committee, here are some suggestions to reduce future costs.

It’s more expensive in Edmonton and doesn’t have to be

My biggest concern is, at this late point in the four year cycle, the current city council will paint ratepayers into a corner, without leaving options open before the October 18 election.

What you’ll hear at the Utilities Committee is concerns raised about apartment buildings, and other multi-unit sites where ratepayers pay about 50 percent more than in other major Canadian cities. In Edmonton, based on research done by the Alberta Residential Landlords Association, the going rate is $31 per unit (meaning each apartment) while everywhere else it comes in at about $20. 

The argument is, it creates an indirect cost, so either rents are higher than they need to be or the high rent diminishes the property value, so property taxes aren’t at the level they should be. 

In broad strokes, at 70,000 apartments, it means the numbers add up in the multi-millions of dollars very quickly in potential lost revenue that is taken out of the Edmonton economy.

I asked the city for some cost information on private versus public service delivery, but was turned down in an email, on account the election campaign is underway.

What I’d like to see 

Now that Edmonton is moving into the COVID-19 delayed roll out of a new robotic truck garbage collection, we’ve got a chance over the next year or so to look at alternatives. Roughly half of the city has collection done by city employees. The other half by the private sector. It’s been  that way for decades, as each keeps the other in check in terms of cost control. 

But you will hear calls to go entirely with the private sector in the next while. That’s certainly a ‘red-meat’ approach that will appeal to many. I could be open to it. 

I’d like to see more data before a final decision is made. Yet I would also like to see efforts to contain costs, especially at the city-run Eco-stations where customers would be forced to line up for extended periods of time to unload what they have. The city needs to do a better job providing options for materials disposal. 

Why not have social agencies that need to collect large items, like heavy furniture, get the benefit of being a drop off location? That way the city does not have to increase salaried staff.

Habitat 4 Humanity is one example that would be a win-win. It’s a way to control expenses, and buys time to look at a larger service delivery system. 




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Scott Johnston for Edmonton City Council