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Talking Trash & Celebrating a Local Hero

There have been some calls and emails about a sharp increase proposed to the fees for your Solid Waste bins after the 2020 Rate Budget was announced last week. The overall budget for Solid Waste (which includes garbage pick up, recycling services, and organics services) is only going up by the low estimated inflation rate. However, if you have a small or medium size black bin, there is some history as to why your rate increase is higher.

It goes back to when we decided to shift the cost of solid waste services off of the property tax base. Council felt that you really should pay based on what a good sorter and recycler you are instead of your property tax assessment. Take a look down below for a quick explainer and let me know what you think as Council will be voting on this proposal in early December. If you have any questions, I welcome your emails and calls.

Solid Waste (the City term for garbage, recycling, and compost), is an environmental and financial challenge in every city in the world. It poses a global environmental challenge no matter how it is dealt with by municipalities: to varying degrees, both land-filling and incinerating emit greenhouse gases. The rising cost of safely dealing with solid waste is a major stress on the property tax rate in many cities so Toronto moved in a new direction.

In 2007, we began removing Solid Waste from the property tax and onto a bin rate-based utility system, meaning that you pay according to the volume of waste you produce. At the same time, we began moving towards a debt-free, cost-recovery garbage system, just like water, so that your bin rate could represent the true cost of solid waste and all waste diversion programs, from curb side to landfill.

Reflecting true costs is key in Solid Waste Management because, like water usage, garbage pick-up is an unavoidable volume-based service. It can only be controlled if all users of the service are working, both collectively and individually, to reduce volumes.

Solid Waste Management Services focus all of their efforts in four main areas:

  1. controlling costs;

  2. increasing waste diversion in single family homes and multi-residential buildings;

  3. extending the life of Toronto’s landfill; and

  4. long-term planning for Solid Waste disposal needs fifty years into the future.

The Budget proposal to continue to remove the rebates in 2020 will increase the fees for small and medium size bins by $86 and $82, respectively or about $7 a month (with an additional projected increase for the small bin of about $88 next year). The large and extra large bins absorbed rate increases of $91 and $23 over the past two years. If the proposal is adopted at budget, funds saved on the property tax side of things will go towards much-needed investments in your city services.

Later in 2020, a City-wide discussion will begin as to what options Toronto has to replace its current Green Lane Landfill facility as it reaches capacity around 2030-35.

Celebrating a Local Hero

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a genuine local hero from the Brian Village community. After a short but fierce battle with cancer, Esther Cutler, longtime president of the Pleasant View Community Recreation Committee passed away last week.

Esther Cutler, left, with myself and the Pleasant View Community Recreation Committee some years ago.

There she was just this fall, commanding the September registration like she always does: as fast as any Parks and Rec computer but ten times more engaging. She even let me help out on one of the tables when the line up grew too long. Esther started PVCRC almost 40 years ago with a dedicated group of Brian-area moms when they realized their small children were lacking after school recreation programs in their otherwise perfect new neighbourhood nestled between the new Highway 404 and Victoria Park Blvd. Today, the program serves children and adults using schools and Pleasant View Community Centre almost every night.

Esther didn’t suffer fools gladly and she never missed an annual visit to tell me what the City could do better to facilitate her large, entirely volunteer-run group in running their own robust recreation program. I never minded her complaints because Esther put her money where her mouth was. She never complained from the comfort of a sofa but rather, with her sleeves rolled up and giving her all whenever she wasn’t at her full time job or raising three fantastic kids or spoiling 5 beautiful grandkids.

As for the Pleasant View Community Recreation Committee, they survived a battle with North York Mayor Lastman to make sure a new Bocce Court would also become a community centre for all. They survived amalgamation even after other local programs were ‘harmonized’ out of existence. Esther shepherded the organization through it all. We must all do what we can to help them survive the loss of our hero, Esther Cutler.


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