Council votes to move waste services to user-pay model

The City of Regina is moving its waste services to a user-pay model.

Regina City Council voted in favour of the model, which means that the fees associated with recycling, yard waste and garbage collection will be displayed on a resident’s utility bill starting on January 1, 2024.

City administration said that the average household would see a $39 increase in utility bills due to the model change.

Currently, the feel for recycling is on utility bills, while regular garbage collection is under property taxes. Yard waste and food waste will be collected in green bins starting next fall.

Moving to a user fee for all three curbside waste services will remove approximately $8.9 million in costs from the property tax base.

Since 2015, Regina’s waste diversion rate has remained static at about 20 per cent. The City currently aims to increase the diversion rate to 65 per cent.

An administration report says that the user-pay funding model for water has been shown to improve diversion and reduction by up to 16 per cent.

The move to a user-pay model would also prolong the life of the city landfill, help lower carbon emissions and meet the goals within the City’s Energy and Sustainability Framework.

The City has estimated that a new landfill could cost between $50 million and $100 million.

Residents can choose between the current 360-litre garbage cart or a smaller 240-litre cart. If households choose the smaller 240-litre garbage cart, their yearly fees would be $193.45; if they choose the larger garbage cart, it would cost $284.70 per year.

Sixty-seven thousand households are provided with recycling and garbage collection services by the City of Regina.

Council also voted to approve an amendment that will apply a fixed utility rebate to all households with a waste/water utility account considered low income.

The rebate program is income-based and will use the Statistics Canada before-tax low-income cut-off from the most recent year to determine who qualifies for the $54.75 per year rebate.

It is expected to cost $500,000 annually, financed by an additional $7 annual charge for residential utility customers.

The city administration said the policy adopted by the council would be inconsistent with its existing water utility rebate program and could require additional funding for the program’s administration.

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