A Saanich resident has decried a recent increase in garbage pickup rates as a hidden form of taxation. Dan Ebenal/News Staff

Saanich resident trashes increase to garbage rates

Municipality says rate increase responds to growing garbage volume

The District of Saanich is facing criticism over increases to its fees for garbage carts, but contends the increase to cart fees is minimized when looking at the entire waste service charges.

“This [increase] is a form of hidden taxation, which cannot be overlooked,” said James Smith, in a letter to the editor in the Saanich News.

“The fees for our required carts, that we place our garbage in, have been granted an apparent increase of approximately nine per cent over last year.”

The Saanich News could not independently ask Smith questions about his claims, as Smith did not return several emails. The District of Saanich also disputes Smith’s claim.

“Our finance department has confirmed that a total garbage fee increase of more than nine per cent is not possible in any scenario,” said Megan Catalano, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich.

Under measures in effect (pending final approval) since Jan. 1, 2018, the annual solid waste service fee has risen to $121.50 from $118.50 in 2017, according to a staff report. However, the annual fee for a 120-litre regulation cart has risen almost nine per cent, going to $27.60 per year, up from $25.50. The fee for a 180-litre regulation has risen to $38.70 from $35.75 (an 8.3 per cent increase). The respective rates for the three categories of organic carts (80-litre, 120-litre and 240-litre) have to risen to $25.50 (up from $25), $35.70 (up from $35) and $71.40 (up from $70).

So the actual percentage increase for residents depends on the size of the cart. “For example, the most common bin sizes (180L garbage, 120L organics) will have a combined increase (for the base, garbage, and organics) of 4.6 per cent,” said Tara Zajac, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich.

According to staff, the proposed fees would range from $174.60 to $231.60, depending on the size and type of cart. In 2017, the range was $169 to $224.25.

Zajac said the increase offsets non-discretionary wage increases, volume increases in landfill disposal, compost and yard drop-off hauling and processing fees for composting organic waste. Overall, Saanich needs to raise additional revenues of $270,400 – an increase of 4.44 per cent – to cover these costs, she said.

A staff report notes that the volume of garbage waste has increased by 400 tons, while the volume of organic waste has increased by 100 tons.

Zajac said garbage rates are preliminary at this stage, pending final approval in May, adding that a mid-year rate adjustment appears rare.

“Residents can familiarize themselves with the proposed budget and are invited to attend our public engagement sessions,” she said.

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