Call me narsty and suspicious

From the City’s FAQ about the garbage bin plan:

The smallest cart (75 litres) will cost less than $209 per year, which is the current cost of providing solid waste management services to the average residential house. All houses in the city will receive a rebate of $209 per year so those opting for the smallest container (75-litre) will not owe any money on their new bill. Houses that choose a larger bin will pay the difference of the cost of their new bin minus $209. Approximate costs are as follows:

  • 75-litre (one bag) – less than $209 (no charge on bill)
  • 120-litre (1.5 bags) – approximately $250 ($250 minus $209 = $41 on bill)
  • 240-litre (3 bags) – approximately $310 ($310 minus $209 = $101 on bill)
  • 360-litre (4.5 bags) – approximately $360 ($360 minus $209 = $151 on bill)
  • Now, what happens to unguarded things with value? Especially ones that get left out on the sidewalk overnight? And while we’re asking questions, where’s the reliable red bike I used to own?

    With over $100 a year in value attached to the larger bins, and no way of securing them, how long till they go walkabout? And what happens when they do? Recycling bins tend not to get stolen now because there isn’t much value attached to them, particularly with someone else’s address printed on the side in marker, but this will be different. They’ll certainly be worth much more than a crackhead would get from fencing a stolen bike.

    There are workarounds, maybe involving bar-code readers which could detect bins reported as stolen, and maybe whether they’re in front of the geocode of the household they’ve been issued to. If that’s part of the plan, the City hasn’t explained it.

    (The Star has calculated, given certain assumptions, that a household garbage compactor would pay for itself in four years under the new system. This is perverse, given that the garbage gets compacted in the truck anyway, but the math does work. “The kids? Oh, they’re out back, playing with the compactor.”)

    Won’t a program like this increase illegal dumping of garbage?

    The City recognizes and understands residents’ concerns about a potential increase in illegal dumping when the volume based rate system for garbage is implemented. Other municipalities that have implemented similar systems have found there was an initial blip in illegal dumping but no sustained increase. Other municipalities rectified the initial illegal dumping problems through communications, monitoring of illegal dumping “hot spots” and bylaw enforcement. The City’s plans include a comprehensive education program and the hiring of additional bylaw officers to monitor illegal dumping and enforce the City’s bylaws.

    In other words: Um, there is that, yes.

    But here’s the thing: This doesn’t just mean garbage piling up in parks (remember the garbage strike?). That’s a nuisance, sometimes a smelly nuisance, but the City does eventually get around to taking it away.

    What about the times when residents may have more than their usual garbage (i.e. holidays, spring cleaning, etc.)?

    While the City would like to discourage residents from setting out additional bags, each household will be allowed to put out up to four extra garbage bags per year for free. There will be a fee charged on a per-bag-basis for any additional bags beyond the four free bags. For example, the collector would pick up the additional bag(s) and record them. Once the resident has used up their allotment of four free bags, there will be a charge for each additional bag. These additional charges will appear on the next Toronto Water/Solid Waste bill. The fee has not yet been set, but it could be in the range of $3.10 per bag based on the per-bag-fee charged to Toronto’s small businesses participating in the City’s Yellow Bag Program.

    This means: if somebody piles their garbage in front of your house, you get charged $3.10 a bag to have it taken away, and you might not find out about it until your biannual water bill arrives up to six months later. Not that anybody would ever do that, of course.

    This is a great plan. It’s great for a tidy Danish village where everybody scrubs their front steps every morning and puts out their laundry on the same day.