Torontonians have had it just about up to here with extra charges for city services, according to a semi-random sampling of city residents by the Globe and Mail, and they’re not terribly keen on paying extra for their trash.
“With the amount of taxes we pay, they want to charge us for extra garbage?” [Anita] Moller asks. “I think that would be crazy because I think that is the only [useful] service they provide to a household.”
She says the city’s policies are fussy enough to begin with – even without people having to adjust to the city’s latest rubbish ruminations. “You’re not putting out garbage for fun,” she says. “It’s garbage!”
Toronto city council is considering following Vancouver’s lead by offering residents garbage bins of different sizes. The smallest bin would be free, while the larger bins would come with a rising schedule of annual collection fees.
This is a totally reasonable way to charge people for a service they consume according to how much strain they put on the system. The more garbage residents put out, the more trucks are needed to carry it, the more garbagemen are needed to work on the trucks, and the faster landfill space fills up. If you paid a private company to take your trash away, this is pretty much how they’d charge you.
Toronto may be botching the sales job, however, by considering the plan a moneymaker. The Globe:
Geoff Rathbone, acting general manager for the city’s solid-waste services, says the plan has two goals: to raise funds to accomplish the city’s goal of 70 per cent waste diversion, and to get people to more readily recycle.
This despite the earlier reporting of the CBC, which said in April that “Under the plan, waste collection costs would be eliminated from the property tax system and replaced instead with a flat annual fee based on the amount of garbage a household produces.” The issue here very much appears to be that even comparatively virtuous trash-generators have the feeling that they’re going to get screwed by the change.
The point of tax-shifting, which is what this nominally is, is to put costs on the people who generate them and withdraw the burden from people who don’t. Shifting taxes and expecting to pull in more from the public’s purses and wallets is a sure way to discredit the idea.
One other thing. Reporter Geoff Nixon talks to one woman who says here family has a standing joke of calling the poor sucker who has to sort the recyclables out of their trash each week the “executive vice-president of garbage.” Why not just have two bins next to the regular garbage, for paper and plastics, and make it everyone’s responsibility all the time? Much less of a chore that way.