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Talking trash: breaking down your garbage bill

Our office has received a few calls recently about the cost of garbage pickup. There was talk about the proposed cost increase of Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services during budget season. But with so much going on lately between battles for education, public health, childcare and transit, who could possibly remember details from months ago?

The former Keele Valley Landfill, once the largest in Canada


In the old days, unsorted garbage was loaded on a buggy and driven to the edge of town to be dumped. There was plenty of room out there and with no plastics, foils or even polyester, garbage would break down pretty quickly.

Now, we must carefully sort garbage and reduce our reliance on landfills because our planet is running out of waste disposal options. Alternatives to landfills are now outrageously expensive – if we changed over from traditional landfilling, we would still need to reduce our garbage footprint to make it affordable.

At the City, we have a nickname for the staff team over at Solid Waste Management Services – we call them "The Measurers". No other city service is so weighed, measured and studied. The Measurers are constantly evaluating ways to control garbage volume at homes, businesses and at the manufacturing source to control costs and reduce harm to our environment. That is how garbage came to be removed from your property tax bill and moved to your utility bill, along with your water.

At the BVA Community Spring Cleanup last weekend

A few years ago, we pulled the cost of garbage off your property tax bill and made it a utility so you could see it on your water bill. Both of these services are based on how much you consume. Services that are purely consumption-based, in my view, shouldn’t be taxed based on the value of your house. A family who diligently reduces/reuses/recycles may live in the largest home on the block – and they should be rewarded for their efforts.


When we first started charging for waste as a utility, we applied a rebate of $200 per household from the property tax pot because moving every budget item to do with solid waste took time. What you see on your bill now is the true and total cost of Solid Waste Management Services. All its costs are now moved over to the utility and like Toronto Water, running debt-free.

We want to incentivize homeowners to switch to the smallest bin they can so the old $200 rebate is being phased out gradually in the order of largest to smallest. Here’s where the bin charges and rebates stand currently

Your bin fee is still an amazing bargain: it manages all our curb-side collection every week, all eight transfer stations, the cost of shipping recyclables to international markets, organics to multiple processors, mulching yard waste to compost, trucking residual garbage to the Green Lane Landfill near London, and all the administration of bin programs and bills.

The numbers

Look at it this way – my house has three adults with regular visits from another adult and three grandkids. With proper sorting, we use a small black bin. This year it will cost us $1.92 a week and even after that rebate is removed in future years, a small bin will cost $5 a week. My extra-large blue bin and green bin come at no charge. I’m a real "Sorting Cop" as my family will attest. Even if we slacked off a bit and went up to a medium bin it would still only set my bustling family back $4.65 per week.

If you need a large or extra-large black bin, these cost $8.23 and $9.53 per week, respectively. These sizes are no longer rebated. If you need these bigger bins it's often because you don't sort your waste properly or because you have a large number of people in your home.

If it’s the latter, consider how many people are being served weekly for that amount. But I’ll bet it's possible to change your sorting habits to reduce the size of your black bin. The city has lots of resources to help you, like the Waste Wizard.

I’m happy to help as well. Come and see me at the following events – let's talk about it! You may be closer to achieving zero waste goals than you ever thought possible.

Don Valley North Compost Days

Pick up compost for your garden, meet your Councillor and local organizations, and have your say on your community! Saturday, May 18th from 10am-12pm at Clydesdale Park Saturday, May 25th from 10am-12pm at Bayview Village Park If you have any questions, send us a message at


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