Regina metropolis council offers inexperienced thumbs as much as citywide curbside composting program

A motion to approve a citywide curbside composting program was passed after being hotly debated by Regina city council Wednesday night. 

The program is set to provide every home in the city with a 240-litre green cart. “Scrape the plate” food and yard waste will be collected, the city says.

The report for the motion projected an upfront cost of $5.5 million to buy green carts, and estimated an cost of $7.5 million per year starting in 2023. However, the report also suggested moving to biweekly garbage collection year-round would save $1.5 million per year, which could then be applied against the cost of the food and yard waste service.

However, some councillors said they could not vote yes without further details on how those costs will be covered.

“I can’t support this not knowing how it’s going to be funded,” said Lori Bresciani, councillor for Ward 4.

“I’m concerned with the fact that not having that information in this report, I think, sets council up to fail, because we have to be answerable to the residents.”

The city administration report said that by the second quarter of 2022, the city will have to make a decision on how to pay for the program. Administration said it can only be funded three ways: with a tax-based model, a user-based model, or one that combines the two.

If council voted for a user-pay system, the report said it would cost between $105 and $120 per household each year. 

Coun. Bob Hawkins said he is convinced that the residents of Regina support the green bin compost program. (Matt Duguid/CBC)

Ward 2 Coun. Bob Hawkins called on council to support the creation of a permanent compost program, following a pilot program that ran from September 2020 to September 2021. 

“The world has now accepted that the climate is warming and accepted that we have to do something about it. This is clearly something that will do something about it,” said Hawkins. 

“It’ll reduce the methane in the air — gas four times more toxic than CO2. It will make our city greener. It will improve the lives of our residents for years to come.”

He disagreed with arguments the report did not have enough information about the cost. While there are still some details to be filled in, the project is “a bargain,” he said.

“The cost of not going ahead tonight with this program, that we’ve already proved and that we’re already committed to, will be born by your children and your grandchildren, who will live through bigger floods than we are seeing, hotter summers than we’re seeing … who will live through climate change.”

Hawkins says he is convinced that the residents of Regina support the green bin compost program. Addressing his fellow councillors, Hawkins said now is not the time to be retrogressive.

The motion was ultimately carried nine to two. 

Beginning in 2023, green carts will be collected weekly between April and October and biweekly between November and March. Users will also be permitted to use compostable bags.

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