By Tim Kalinowski on November 20, 2020.
City council will allow a one-year grace period to local condominiums over 45 units before implementing mandatory recycling as long as they can meet the same recycling standards as the City’s blue bin program through alternate private recycling options.
“It requires multi-family properties to come back and meet all the requirements,” explained City of Lethbridge Waste and Recycling Services general manager Joel Sanchez. “These requirements are they have to present a (recycling) plan, they have to specify the quantity of materials they are recycling, they also have to provide training and signs for the different materials that are going to be included.”
After one year, says Sanchez, the City will review the results of the condo owners’ in-house recycling programs.
“As part of the motion that was passed today by city council, we are going to go back and review the (blue bin) program exception for the next 12 months,” he confirmed. “The intent of this is to capture how many properties are going to be exempted, and what will be the financial implications we are going to have, depending on those financial implications. We are going to go back to council next year probably about this time in November, and we are going to report back and say this is how many properties are being exempted, these are the financial implications we have for the utility.”
The expected loss in revenue to the City for 2021 for granting the 12-month grace period will be about $200,000, said Sanchez, which would be made up largely by using one-time funds put aside for life-cycle replacement of the City’s residential blue bins.
The move by council follows a lively debate in the community earlier this fall when members of an ad hoc committee representing about 1,000 large condo owners in Lethbridge said their mandatory inclusion in the City’s blue bin program would be too expensive for their residents.
“Because all these units have been doing recycling for a number of years, the cost is minimal compared to what the City is proposing,” said committee representative Brian Freeze at the time. “The City is proposing a cost of $7 per unit per month. The average cost in the current condominiums ranges from 50 cents per unit per month to about $2.50, significantly lower than what the City is proposing.”
Freeze said this was too big of an increase, particularly for seniors who lived on a fixed income within the condo facilities. Freeze had requested city council consider a permanent exemption for large multi-family dwellings over 45 units which have their own recycling programs, and who wish to contract out these services with private recycling companies instead of using City resources.
Sanchez instead proposed an exemption that condo owners would have to re-apply for on a yearly basis.
“Before the second week of January every year,” he said, “they will need to submit that plan to the City in order to be exempt for that year.”
The final motion on these proposed changes will come back to council before the end of the year to be ratified.
Mayor Chris Spearman felt the one-year grace period was appropriate to gather the best information possible on the issue.
“Basically by postponing for a year, we (on council) were told there would be minimal financial impact on the City,” he said, “that it doesn’t harm the blue bin program, and it can be looked at one year for now. The next council will consider what the options will be when it comes forward (again).”
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