January 15th, 2021

Condo owners seek fair recycling services

By Letter to the Editor on September 5, 2020.

The Condo Owners Society of Alberta is following the recycling issue in Lethbridge with great interest.

In our experience, condominiums in the province are often expected to foot a disproportionate amount of the costs of utilities and services simply because they are permitted to do so within their powers under the Municipal Government Act. While perfectly legal, what often happens is neither equitable nor fair to city condominium taxpayers simply because they happen to live in a condominium.

Condominiums are often charged for services on a per unit basis when the service isn’t provided on a per-unit basis, and the actual costs of service are often far less than they would be for a single family dwelling.

Using Lethbridge as an example, it does not cost the City the same amount of money to pick up one bin of recycled materials at a larger condominium of 131 units on a biweekly basis as it would to pick up 131 individual homes. This would cost this condominium (131 units) $917 per month or $11,004 per year for one bin at two times per month. This is unrealistic and unfair especially if you consider that many larger condominium corporations are already recycling with private contractors at a fraction of the cost.

Condominiums are corporate entities under the Condominium Act, are governed by a board of directors and are often centrally billed as a single entity for most utilities. More than 25 per cent of persons in the province live in condominiums, they are taxpayers, often over 55 and often single individuals.

The Condo Owners Society of Alberta was created to educate owners, and to advocate for fair and equitable treatment from all levels of government and industry. To that end we applaud the local group of Lethbridge condominium owners who are asking the City only for services that are fair and allowing them to continue to operate in as economically reasonable manner as possible.

Terry Gibson

President, Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta


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In all respect your argument falls flat. The $7 a month fee is not for pickup it’s for constructing the MRF and “enhancements”. When the recycling fee was put in effect for businesses and condos the rates for residential pickup also increased but the city was sneaky and did not make it a separate item leaving the door open to add it. Do condo owners generate less recycling? Maybe, but sometimes it can be a month or 6 weeks before I put my blue bin out so you might have a disagreement about that.
If private contractors are doing it for less why don’t you use them? Residential homeowners don’t even have that option?

Last edited 4 months ago by gs172

gs172, you should actually read Bylaw 6146 The Waste Bylaw.
Schedule A, which list the charges for Waste Services, notes in charge #4 of 11 that: “4. Residential Customers in Apartments and Condominiums with greater than 6 Dwelling Units that are using a Waste Collection Cart or a shared Waste Bin service provided by the City of Lethbridge for the collection of Recyclable Materials will be billed for Waste services at a fee of $0.230 per day per Dwelling Unit.”

Most of the larger Condominiums are not currently using a waste collection cart or shared Waste Bin provided by the City of Lethbridge. We will however be forced to so if the current waste administration’s plans are put into force in January 2021.

This is one of the main points we are objecting to. We would love to be able to use our current contractors that provide this service for us, but the city is not going to allow it. We will be forced to use city bins and city pick up.

Although you are correct, this is a fee, it is a fee for using the city’s equipment, ie: their bins whether we want to or not. This one of things we are objecting to.

Last edited 4 months ago by pjrosen

You say you’re being charged $0.230 per day per unit, after looking at my city bill I’m being charged $0.6940 per day. That’s a 3rd of my rate. I get charged that whether anyone’s living in the house or not or whether I take my garbage and recycling to the dump myself.

Last edited 4 months ago by gs172

gs172 your rate is $20. 60 month cart size and is for waste collection which the bylaw 6146 reads, there is no residential curbside recycle collection rate. The administration have erred and it cost residentials $3.8m to $4.3m for waste collection deposited in a waste collection account not a curbside recycle account. When we ask the Mayor and Council the question the so-called $7.00 fee the response is it is a” enhancement” or the mayors term when we asked if it is a tax or user fee no it is a “increment” to pay for blue cart and MRF. A Councilor questioned the past City Manager on what the $7.00 fee pays the recorded response to pay for the MRF. The Mrf is paid for by a debt loan of over $15 m and debt charges of $1.5 m you pay on your property tax. not a user fee. There is more.


You are being charged the rate that is listed as #1 in Bylaw 6198 (the schedule of fee’s is part of the Waste Bylaw 6146)

Not only do Condominium owners (for those with greater than 6 dwellings) have to pay the Waste Services fee they also have to pay:

  • garbage services at the Commercial Collection Rate as shown on table 2 of the Bylaws, or contract out to a private provider. (This is garbage, not recycling for which we have to pay the extra fee)
  • a Waste Program fee at $0.0723 per day per dwelling unit.
  • a Landfill Charge at $0.05 per day per dwelling unit… and,
  • a Waste Reduction Fee at $0.118 per day per dwelling unit.

So I would ask you, if you had to pay all these fees, would you be willing to share 1 bin with 30 of your neighbours and still be happy to pay the same amount plus all our extra fees?

That is what we are being asked to do. The bin the city would would be forcing us to use would be at most just over 30 times the size of your bin, shared amongst, in our case, 131 units. Other Condominiums in town are larger, but they still get the same bin.

This makes no sense especially as we have been recycling communities for years and have service providers and volunteers that do it far more efficiently and at a lower cost than what the city wants to charge us.

Last edited 4 months ago by pjrosen

What is really happening here is the City has a problem they never could generate over 4,000 tonnes of recyclables and with the former contract processor MRF they could generate sometimes maybe $100,000. in revenue maybe paid the bills and sometimes shared with residentials. But with the inept business minds of Councilors and pressured by Enviro group they changed their minds and approved the $16m MRF and $600,000. residential recycle blue cart program. The question if you have a brilliant business mind would you invest $16 m to produce 4000 tonnes process less than $2m marketables and generate a loss of $935,000 first year operation. So the brilliant minds the $45 to $75. hours must do away with your brokers who no doubt take your recycle marketables to the private Mrf you know wipe them all out so they have complete control of all recycling market in this City will it happen , your Condo recyclables are the key.Watch for the fight with the three largest Waste Management Corporations here.


In other words, Condominiums are being asked to bare a disproportionate portion of the cost of this money losing poor decision. Is it any wonder we feel that we are seen as cash cows for the administration? How fair is that?


Using the example of 131 suites:
If these homes were single family dwellings, they would probably be on 18.3 m. lots (e.g. 60 foot)
If you put these homes side by side, without addressing the need for intervening streets, they would stretch over 2.4 km.

It is obviously much more efficient to have one recycling pickup point for 131 suites of condominium than for 131 single family homes stretched over more than 2.4 km.

I think all Lethbridge condo owners are asking for is fair and equitable charges for recycling.

Terry Gibson
Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta