Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If it stinks, its probably garbage

To date, our property taxes have covered the costs of waste management. Soon, over and above our property tax, we will be charged a monthly fee for recycling. This was not only to save the planet, but the costs associated with the landfill.

In today's SP (June 7/11) the city's environmental services manager, Brenda Wallace, submits her report to extend the landfills life by forty years at a mere cost of $54.6 million. But wait, isn't she the same person that submitted a report to council saying a cost of $4.50 to $5.50 per household for recycling - a fee which is out of whack with reality.

I haven't seen the plan for funding, but in responding to what is reported today, it appears she has a plan to cover the first $20 million. I'm going to guess this is the lead up to per bag or per pound charge for collected household garbage. This would be fine by me if there was to be a reduction in my current property tax which already covers waste management.

In today's Letters to the Editor, a submission by Al Roden asks this question: "Am I the only one in this city who thinks the people who run this institution should be in one?" No Al, you are not.


  1. What a bunch of BS. The problem is that Council is full of tree hugging apologists who believe that the environment should be placed above any other issue or cost.

    They allow incompetent people like Brenda Wallace to continue to submit reports that a grossly lacking and then rely on them to make decisions they know aren't sound.

    I can tell you right now, whatever in her report is wrong. Ms. Wallace seems more concerned with presenting Council what they want to hear rather than gathering facts and making informed decisions. I'm still amazed at her recycling report. I've done very little other than a few hours of internet research and can already find a dozen holes in her proposal and can sit in front of council and tell them $4.50 is absurd, especially to anyone who has done an ounce of research.

  2. The numbers on the new landfill don't seem to add up at all. The City is forecasting the project as if this will prevent ever having to get a new landfill. The issue is just when? and I suppose at what cost?

    With the rate that Saskatoon is growing a new landfill is a reality which we may as well face at some point or another (especially with our expected growth over next decade).

    The city (and province) is quickly figuring out that isolating bundled costs (ie taking garbage collection from property taxes) is a means of double collecting or easily obtaining new revenue. No way will the property taxes go down by the corresponding amount if they start charging for waste collection. It is just a hidden tax increase.

    This confirms my theory that in the last decade all you need to do is put 'eco', 'green', 'recycling' or 'environment' next to any proposal and the sheep will support it at any cost. On a basic level hybrid cars do more damage to the environment than smart small sedans, yet you call them green and every tree hugger in town is driving a new hybrid without actually researching it.

    Looks like our city has found this out and will use the sheep to usher in the 'green' programs which aren't really green.

    Yay for our soon to be inefficient and poorly run recycling system. BTW has the city even determined what kind of service? by whom? and details of the recycling system? .... or is the plan to still hand a blank cheque to some companies to give us something/anything, cause you know it's actually about the system but whether we have one or not.

  3. Once again the Mistress loyal readers show their ignorance by not supporting the curbside recycling program.

    Anon 1:07pm are you really asserting that the no recycling program is really better than a poorly run one? I don't know where you went to school but I would rather take a poorly run one than none at all (be it car, recycling system, etc..).

    So what if what is implemented is not perfect, we can grow it from there. Once the system is operational we can make alterations and changes as need be to improve the system. The important thing is just getting a system in there in the first place. Once people accept paying for the service then we can begin to fix shortcomings in initial system.

    As a young person, I would much prefer that we get something, anything, that says we aren't living in the 1950s. As a resident of the U of S dorms I can attest to how easy it is to run a system for mass recycling as we have one here in the dorms.

    This isn't about dollars and cents Anon 1:07, this is about the future we are leaving for the next generation and the lessons we are teaching them as they will eventually hand over the earth to future generations.

  4. Once again the dissenters are flagged as being against an idea by an at all cost green type like. Anon 4:04

    I didn't see the first comments as not wanting recycling (which by the way Anon 4:04) we all ready have in this city. Go ahead an pay for it if you want @ $9 a month or do it on your own free. The opposition is that people like you think you can force something on people just by making them pay for it. There is nothing and I am sure of it that can make me recycle if I don't want to. Are we going to have a new division in the city administration called CSI-Garbage??

    And I also agree none of this will make waste collection cheaper of more efficient. The landfill will need to be replaced at some point and when the bottom falls out of the "green" recycling market which it most likely will do when people get fed up with the ridiculous costs associated with it we will need to re-think those decisions as well.

    Do I need to remind you Anon 4:04 that fixing a broken system after isn't as easy as it sounds. Hell just look at the City's administration of the bus system/road planning/Street light signalization/snow removal/River Landing/ need I say more?

  5. Is anyone familiar if the bottle depots will still be operated once the curbside recycling plan goes into effect?

  6. It is cheaper to collect/process a tonne of recyclables then to collect/store a tonne of garbage. period.

    The only way to ensure that enough recyclables are diverted from our landfill is to have a city-wide program. period.

    Currently we divert approx. 23% from our landfill, other cities easily reach 50% with a curbside program, many others are aiming and achieving 60% plus. Newsflash, they all have curbside programs.

    Whatever the program put in place here, COSMO and SARCAN will continue to operate, as will the depots.

    A new landfill will cost upwards of 100 million. That doesn't include increased operating costs associated with trucking waste to whatever location we can potentially find for it, but it is safe to assume it will not be within the city limits.

    I agree $4.24 is low, the cost is somewhere between $5 and $7 per month. Of course, that cost doesn't include the cost savings associated with increased landfill lifespan and provincial funding from the MMRP program.

    But who needs facts when we can wave our arms wildly and throw around unfounded alligations!

  7. You say it is between $5 and $7, what other jurisdiction has been able to achieve it at that rate? Not to mention the difficulties that Saskatchewan entails (ie. spread out population).

    The problem Anon 8:39, is that people like you simply dismiss people who question the curbside as being ignorant and backwards. People like YOU don't bother to spend the time to even think things through. It's just get something set up and move on to the next cause without seeing through this program.

    Not one person at city hall when I called (or my Councillor) could explain any of the following questions to me, which I think are very reasonable:

    1. What type of system does the City see as the best fit? (single box, comingled, etc..)

    2. How much will this program cost?

    3. How much material is this expect to divert from Saskatoon's landfill? (they had some estimate on this one)

    4. The material that is diverted, where will it end up? (was really hoping to hear not at a toxic dump in another country, but no one had any idea where stuff would go).

    Why can no one advancing the curbside answer any questions. I'd happily support a program if we only know what we are doing. No one knows what we want, how much we want to spend, what to do with it, or how to get started. I have lost all faith in the current council to implement or operate any program at the expected cost, to undertake any venture with vision, or to spend my money wisely.

    Now we have sympathetic cause like recycling and a bumbling council that will spend whatever amount to get whatever kind of program just so we can say we are like everywhere else.

  8. Anon 9:08
    "Whatever the program put in place here, COSMO and SARCAN will continue to operate, as will the depots."

    Where is the proof and statements by Council or administration on this as being fact?

    I have seen many comments from Cosmo that their operation will be in jeopardy should the system of collection go to a co-mingle system. The city has a contract currently only to 2018. Are they going to phase out their use by that time??

    I heard the Mayor indicate all civic facilities and schools would be used to get them their quota of clean paper. Me thinks the School divisions will be making that decision on their own and they don't answer to the city on their recycling processes they are separate entities so the Mayor doesn't and shouldn't speak for them. This is just one example of the city putting the cart before the horse.

    Bring a report in front of the public that does a whole evaluation and cost benefit of the waste management system to date and the amount of property tax coming in to cover these existing costs and realistic additional expenses then we can have a true evaluation of any "green" benefit.

    Here's a thought is the current dump not now just a co-mingled pile of recycling for some future generation to explore and advance a technology to utilize??

  9. Anon 10:44,

    It is easier to scream "it's for the environment" than to present well researched facts.

    Why do you think council has failed to take any reasonable steps, instead feeding us the mantra of every other city has one so we should too.

  10. This whole debate is so frustrating. I don't support the current curbside plans, simply because the incompetence of Council and the fact that no one has actually thought this through. As someone above posted, no one seems to have answers to questions or any sort of knowledge about what would work for Saskatoon best.

    Could you imagine if our City operated like this on everything. We need new work trucks for the employees, so the solution is to contact the dealerships and say make us an offer on trucks. We don't know what kind of truck we need, what size, what capabilities, just sell us a truck because most cities have their workers in trucks.

    That is what our city sounds like. Why has no one stepped up and determined the system that works best for Saskatoon (regardless of what is cheapest for companies to run, or will cost us the least). Just tell me, with our demographics, geography, facilities, what would work best? No one has been able to answer that, it's just round about talk about saving the landfill or every other city has it.

    The sad thing is people label me anti-recycling because of this. I'm not, I just don't want a system for the sake of having a system. If I was buying a tv, I wouldn't run out and buy first one I saw. I would research and find which one fits my needs. Why should I not expect the same from the city.

    However, people are so railroaded about getting a system in place they lose sight of the fact that a bad system is no better than what we have today. If you're gonna do it, do it right. No one has stepped up and taken ownership of this issue yet. That is saddest part.

  11. Perhaps you should all take the time to read the numerous reports that have come to council on recycing since 2007. They are all publicly available. Believe it or not, all your questions are discussed

  12. Yes they are all discussed but none are practically applied to Saskatoon yet.

    There is not even consensus on single bin/comingled debate. And depending on who you talk to on council there seems to be leanings for one or the other. Neither system has been recommended as the better solution for Saskatoon.

    As for pricing, please tell me where Council has established a firm price for what this would cost? All I have seen is a RFP with a lowball number attached so that the City can fish for some sort of a price range without committing themselves.

    Don't lie and imply that the answers have been provided. They haven't, unless you are willing to call my councillor (Clark) a liar? He's told me flat out that the City just doesn't know on some of these things yet. I trust what he says.

    So please, the questions are above and there are only 4 of them. Just find me the answers to those please. I've read several of the reports and not seen it answered.

  13. I'll give your request a go.

    1. What type of system does the City see as the best fit? (single box, comingled, etc..) The one that employs the most civic workers!

    2. How much will this program cost? More than my mother and I expect many other senior citizens can afford.

    3. How much material is this expect to divert from Saskatoon's landfill? (they had some estimate on this one) Not enough to stop us from spending 100's of millions on a new one.

    4. The material that is diverted, where will it end up? (was really hoping to hear not at a toxic dump in another country, but no one had any idea where stuff would go).
    On the West side of Saskatoon like the rest of the garbage right now.

    Hope you can trust these responses as I have done all the research myself.;-)

  14. "It is cheaper to collect/process a tonne of recyclables then to collect/store a tonne of garbage. period."

    This statement is a complete and utter falsehood. If it were true, the budget for the garbage collection would go down with every ton of material recycled. An exhaustive search of different cities shows this doesn't happen.

    The Toronto Star is all in arms about Mayor Ford's efforts to privatize garbage collection in Toronto. The costs their continue to skyrocket no matter how much recycling they do.

    Don't try to tell me it's only in Toronto that this happens. As just one example, I saw an article in the Vancouver Sun about how less garbage going to the landfill CAUSES higher prices charged to residents because the fixed costs have to be covered.

    Show me a list of large cities all across North America with declining budgets for garbage due to recycling efforts. You can't do it.

    The whole purpose to recycling is one of opportunity cost. That there is a better use for the material than putting it in a landfill. The 'better use' argument is one of societal benefit and is not necessarily an economic one. It WILL cost you more to direct the recyclable materials to their 'better use'.

    As a consumer I often pay more for a product that provides more utility (to me) than the lowest cost alternative. Some times that utility is nothing more than a brand name which gives me peace of mind for the perceived quality of the product. It's WORTH it to me to pay more. I also notice that a lot of advertising goes into convincing my why paying more is the smart decision.

    The phony environmentalists are so afraid of putting forward a honest argument to the public that they lie about costs and create imaginary cost savings.

    Tell people the truth. It WILL cost more to recycle. The benefits to society from this recycing are these: (enumerate) and that makes the extra cost worth it.

    In Saskatoon one of the benefits to society is found at Cosmo. It amazes me that all these greenies are crying out about 'SAVING THE LANDFILL.' What a battlecry that is! Their focus is so much on spurious arguments like that in order to galvanize public opinion that they can't see the best argument to be made for their position.

    Imagine if the greenies dropped all the landfill nonsense and put their efforts behind a campaign for a social benefit. Why not publicize all of the extra good that could happen for the people at Cosmo if they tripled their volumes by everyone recycling? It's not trash, it's a golden opportunity for the disadvantaged in Saskatoon, would be the core of their argument.

    That would pull onside all those people who don't really believe the environmental arguments or the 'facts' presented by the greenies. It takes the focus from caring for the landfill towards caring for real people.

    It's quite a paradigm shift for the greenies so I don't see it happening. Caring about people first has never been on their agenda.

  15. The greenies will stop at nothing to push their agenda forward. They take an arrogant path that they are acting in the best interest of some superior good. They have no room or reason for debate, and will talk down to anyone who opposes their program.

    Just take a look around at anyone simply asking questions. Not only that, when presented with the tough questions they lack the ability to answer those. Rather relying on sending the inquirer on an endless chase for the facts hoping to divert their cause.

    Confusion is their key, that and bullying their agenda at any cost.


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