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People who compost at home ask exclusion from green cart program

The compost program will reduce pressure on city landfill.
Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark.

SASKATOON—Mayor Charlie Clark has revealed that the city consulted with the public before introducing its new city-wide green cart program. However, Clark said that some people who had been composting before the program's implementation declined to join it.

The initiative, which aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, will provide residents with green carts to collect food scraps and yard waste for composting.

Nevertheless, he stressed that more than relying on voluntary participation was needed to reduce the pressure on the city's landfill, as only 20 per cent of the population composts at home.

“Even when we are developing this [program], there were people in the community who said we don’t need a [green] bin because we already compost everything. It is lesser during wintertime,” said Clark, who added that only 20 per cent of the city’s population compost at home. 

“If we have changes to reduce the pressure on our landfill, we can’t rely on that voluntarily. A small percentage of people do it. We have to go to a city-wide program. I understand some people feel it is unnecessary [but] we can’t rely on that strategy.”

He added that they always get feedback from the community, especially when introducing a new program like the city-wide green cart waste initiative. He even recalled the communal bins in back alleys before that were changed to single household bins. 

“There was much feedback: people who liked it, people who didn’t like it. Then we went to recycling. That was [another] big change and we got much feedback. I’ve been pleased to see many people are okay with it,” said Clark. 

“Finally, the city is doing something people see in other cities and that they see just how much gets thrown away, filling up their garbage bins, that's kitchen waste that they know could be turned into compost.” 

The new program comes with a monthly fee of $6.73 or an annual charge of $78.34. The added cost will see a 3.93% increase in municipal property tax for a single-detached home valued at $344,000.

“We are also hearing people concerned about having a place to put the bin and how they will ensure they get it in and out [during collection]. I understand it is an additional cost, but reductions in property tax have offset it,” said Clark. 

“Given the pressure on property tax, unfortunately, we have not been able to bring below-zero property tax increase, but it is offset that way. Working with our residents is an ongoing process to ensure we can work out the challenges and hopefully have people feel that this is good for them.” 

While some residents have expressed concern about having a place to put the bin and how to ensure it gets in and out during collection, Clark said that working with residents to overcome challenges is an ongoing process.

City Water and Waste Operations Director Brendan Lemke emphasized the importance of proactive waste management, noting that the city would ultimately have to pay for waste disposal expenses.

He added that the cost of a $100-million landfill project could be avoided by acting now to reduce waste going to the landfill.

Collecting and composting will be done the whole year, even during winter, since the facility that will turn food scraps and yard waste into compost is indoor.