By Jensen, Randy on September 15, 2020.
An ad hoc committee representing 10 large condo boards had an opportunity to make its pitch to city council requesting an exemption from the City of Lethbridge’s residential recycling program.
The group presented at Monday’s Community Issues Committee meeting, and engaged in an hour-long discussion with councillors and City staff.
“Our objective is to get the bylaw changed that gives them authority to impose the program on us, and offer either an exemption or ability to opt-out of the program,” said the committee’s spokesperson Brian Freeze. “Our argument is we have been recycling for five to 10 years now very efficiently using essentially sorting materials at the resident level, and depositing them in the bins. And then using small contractors, small businesses, to take those materials and resell them. It’s very efficient for us. And because we use volunteers to sort at the residence level and don’t use City bins or totes, we do it for a low cost compared to the City.”
Freeze said council’s goal in bringing in the current residential recycling bylaw was to encourage greater waste diversion in Lethbridge, and, he emphasized, the condos he was representing were already doing that in a very efficient and cost-effective way. They were also helping local private recyclers who currently provided the service, he said. Freeze argued if it isn’t broken why fix it?
Coun. Rob Miyashiro asked city manager Craig Dalton to respond to this question, indicating his intent in sponsoring the original recycling bylaw was to get residents recycling, and these condos appeared to be doing that.
“While these (10) properties here today are demonstrating good leadership and good recycling,” stated Dalton, “in fact there are 45 properties in this particular category, over 45 units, and of those 45 most of them are not being served (by private recycling). And, in fact, 18 of them are already being served by us even though the deadline of the service has been set up to December of next year.”
Director of Infrastructure Services Doug Hawkins further explained to council what allowing large condos to be exempted from residential recycling requirements would mean in terms of budget shortfall for the entire city-wide recycling program.
“If we weren’t to get any further implementation for multi-family other than what we have today,” he said. “If council were to change the bylaw and exempt all the remaining properties, we would probably see a shortfall in the neighbourhood of $150,000 per year based on our current estimate of the total number of customers we anticipated at the outset of the program.”
Hawkins indicated this shortfall would have to be made up by other residential households and multi-family condos in the city as Waste and Recycling Services was a self-sustaining entity which administers the current recycling service at cost.
Acting Mayor Ryan Parker, who chaired Monday’s CIC meeting on behalf of Deputy Mayor Jeffrey Coffman who could not attend in person, said council would have a lot to consider based on the information received during Monday’s meeting.
“Everyone has to buy in so everyone can pay the same rate: that was the idea behind the whole philosophy (of city-wide residential recycling), and we were going to institute the condos as time goes on,” Parker reminded the committee members and his fellow councillors. “Now the clock is almost striking 12; so it is decision time.”
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