Council is considering using extra money in its solid waste budget to bring back curbside yard waste pick-up.
At Monday’s financial planning meeting, council learned it has an extra $124,000 in 2015 funding from Multi-Material BC (MMBC), the organization which took over the city’s recycling program last May.
City staff recommended council create a new solid waste reserve to handle the funding and use it to reduce solid waste user fees for taxpayers.
But Coun. Larry Samson had a different idea.
“I think this is the opportune time, with the extra money that MMBC is paying us, to bring back the yard waste program,” Samson said. “When we discontinued it, it was one of the services that we heard loud and clear from the public that they wanted.”
Samson said it’s a valuable service to the community that helps prevent illegal dumping.
“Not everybody has a truck to go up to the end of Willis Road and up to Quinsam Crossing (the yard waste drop-off centre) and dump their stuff there,” Samson said. “Not all seniors have the ability to throw it in the back of their car.
“These clippings, they end up on our logging roads, they end up in our parks, they end up in dumpsters, so I would like to see this service brought back,” Samson added.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield agreed and said he was concerned that staff’s recommendation would restrict council in how it could use the funds once in the solid waste reserve.
“When I look at the recommendation of the report, ‘that council allocate the equivalent amount of remaining new MMBC funding toward a solid waste reserve to help stabilize solid waste user fees,’ then I don’t see how we’re going to be able to utilize it for that other purpose,” Cornfield said. “I have no problem setting up a reserve provided it can be used for the other purpose. As long as the motion is crystal clear, so we do have that latitude.”
Cornfield proposed a motion that council allocate the MMBC funding to a solid waste reserve, without stipulating what those funds should be used for, in order to give council more freedom.
That motion passed unanimously.
City staff’s recommendation to use the MMBC funding to decrease solid waste user fees by roughly $12 per household in 2015, to give taxpayers a break before costs are expected to rise next year.
“Due to flat city user fees and increasing contract costs and increasing household numbers, the solid waste function will require a user fee increase starting in 2016 on existing service levels,” wrote Amber Zirnhelt, the city’s sustainability and long range planning manager, in a report to council.