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Solid waste plan

How the city deals with its waste and what it costs could look a lot different under a proposed 20-year plan.
Stantec's Cathy Smith presents the plan to council Monday night. (Jamie Smith,

How the city deals with its waste and what it costs could look a lot different under a proposed 20-year plan.

Currently the city's diversion rate, the amount of waste it keeps out of the dump, is around 22 per cent compared to the 47 per cent provincial average. The Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Strategy, presented to city council as a draft report Monday night, has a way to bring that number to 68 per cent by 2022. But Stantec, the consultant group that wrote the report, said that will take time and money.

The two-phase plan would completely overhaul the way Thunder Bay deals with its waste and recycling. Phase one could see weekly recycling, a move to single-stream recycling that would increase the type of materials people could recycle and automated pick-up.

Stanted's Cathy Smith said just making it easier for people would help the diversion rate.

"A lot of it has to do with the convenience of programming," she said.

"The more convenient you make these programs, the more participation you're going to have."

It would also see a removal of bag limits but a move to clear garbage bags. There's also a plan to expand leaf and yard-waste pick-up.

But recycling more and different kinds of material would also mean changes to recycling facilities, which could be up to $5 million if a new one was needed.

Phase 2 would include multi-residential areas and industry. Over the 20 year period, the plan could cost between $10 million and $15 million. That would include the recycling facility, operating and programming costs. 

Coun. Aldo Ruberto said when council debates the strategy April 7, he wants questions answered that will likely be on the public's mind.

"What am I paying right now? How much better is it going to be?” he said.

Coun. Andrew Foulds said he was surprised to hear how low the city's diversion rate is.

"It was a bit shocking," he said.

But it was also shocking to see that what waste collection costs a home owner right now, around $12 on average, could triple by the end of the plan.

"People need to know what they're buying," he said.

Smith said the plan is really about best practices for a city to deal with its waste. The plan will be available on the city's website soon. 
"I just think everybody really needs an opportunity to really digest the information," she said



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