PETER CONRADI/Bullet News
Niagara residents will pay more for collection of extra garbage starting April 30.
The Region’s public works committee Tuesday approved an increase of $1 for tags that allow people to set out more than one container for curbside collection. Tags will soon cost $2, up from the current $1.
A staff report to the committee recommended the hike so as to reflect the full cost of the collection program. The Region now hopes it will be in a position to at least break even.
Niagara residents are allowed to set out one bag of garbage per week and unlimited recycling. Region staff hopes raising the fee to $2 for each extra bag will encourage more recycling to the blue and grey boxes and green organics bins – both of which officials say continue to be under-utilized.
A recent study of Niagara’s garbage habits showed nearly 53 per cent of the contents of trash containers is actually compostable that should be in green bins. Nearly 13 per cent more of that belongs in blue and grey boxes, leaving only about 35 per cent as actual garbage.
Tuesday’s fee hike is the first since tags were introduced for extra garbage containers 16 years ago.
Nevertheless, Niagara Falls Coun. Selina Volpatti spoke against the increase, saying a 100 per cent boost is too much for the average household to afford, and that angry residents would resort to more illegal dumping. Having said that, however, she voted in favour of the report, as did all the councillors present.
No one from the public was in the council chambers to argue for or against the report.
Catherine Habermebl, acting director of waste management for the Region, said it’s typical for a spike in illegal dumping to occur when there’s a change affecting waste, especially one that takes money out of residents’ pockets. But she said that usually does not last long, in part because bylaw officers will clamp down on dumping regulations.
She said Region staff tries to find offenders who have disposed of trash illegally, such as on vacant land or in ditches. The Region does not necessarily pursue the matters in court, but will follow up with a letter or a visit to the home of the culprits to let them know they have been caught, and to request they clean up their mess.
Habermebl added the Region received two phone calls on the issue – one in favour and one against.
The Region was expecting to sell about 400,000 tags in 2012, generating about $320,000 in revenue. It’s expected the increased tag fees will bring in an extra $265,000, with about $100,000 going toward advertising the new fee and fighting illegal dumping.
St. Catharines Coun. Andy Petrowski, said he views the increase as a positive for taxpayers, who will no longer have to subsidize the pickup of extra bags.
Tags are available to single-family homes and apartments with two to six units. The committee recommendation comes to full council March 1.