Municipal politicians will have the opportunity to discuss and debate the direction of the City of North Bay's waste diversion strategy during a virtual committee meeting, Tuesday.
The Infrastructure and Operations Committee, chaired by Coun. Chris Mayne, includes all the other members of the Council, with Mayor Al McDonald as ex officio. A poll of the committee will determine whether the matter moves forward for a vote.
The committee will be examining a proposed waste service level change, as outlined in this staff report prepared by Karin Pratte, the City's senior environment and facilities engineer.
The plan calls for the three bags and/or receptacles total of waste currently collected at curbside weekly to drop to two. Also, City garbage bag tags available for purchase at the Customer Service Centre on the main floor of City Hall will double in cost to $2 per tag. Extra bags beyond the limit must be tagged for collection. The changes would come into effect Jan. 1, 2022, if approved at this committee level, and would later have to be passed by way of a by-law in a regular meeting of Council.
From the report: "The increased annual cost to a household would be dependent on the number of waste receptacles put out each week. Currently, households put out approximately 1.5 receptacles per week. This means that most households would not require purchasing additional tags. There are, however, residents who will choose to put out more than 2 receptacles out of convenience."
According to the City of North Bay's definition, one standard receptacle can include several bags of garbage:
"Extra bags/receptacles can have a maximum weight of 15 kilograms, or 35 pounds and receptacles cannot be larger than 150 litres, or 33 gallons. The City will collect three extra garbage bags/receptacles per household as long as they have a bag tag."
The industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sectors would see their limits drop from 12 to 10 receptacles under the proposed model.
A public education campaign outlining the waste collection changes would accompany its approval by Council and would begin in September, months before implementation.
The City says North Bay is lagging behind other major northern centres when it comes to waste diversion. Pratte has noted the City of North Bay "currently allows the most waste at the curb of any other large northern Ontario community." More than Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury and Timmins without any user fees. "We have the largest volume allowed at the curb — for free. Going down to two free bags we would be comparable."
During last December's service level change discussions, Pratte told members, "This is not only environmentally-friendly, it's fiscally-friendly...The intention here isn't that we would sell thousands and thousands worth of bag tags. The intention is to have people think differently about what they put into the waste stream."
See related story: Would you pay a buck a bag for extra garbage pickup?
Any waste diversion strategy brought forward has an overarching goal of protecting the life of the municipally-owned Merrick Landfill, consistently cited by the City as one of its most valuable — yet finite — assets. These programs are designed to divert waste from the landfill into recycling programs, with the aim of maintaining or extending the useful life of the landfill. In 2025, the cost of recycling will begin to be borne by the producers of the materials, not municipalities the size of North Bay, creating further savings.
"This would not have a huge impact on your average user," said Pratte. "It would encourage users to recycle more."
Pratte noted then she would be happy if no tags were sold at all and recycling habits improved, as 30 to 40 per cent of the waste entering the landfill is from recyclable material. She added this program is intended for households putting out three receptacles and no recycling.
The committee meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting of North Bay City Council.