Fee increase for curbside compost in Winnipeg could come years before program launch

Winnipeggers could pay an increased fee for curbside compost pickup, even though the service won’t be available for years to come.

A City of Winnipeg report recommends increasing the waste diversion fee by $9 a year for all single-family residences, bringing the total to $89 a year, starting in January 2025. 

The money would go toward purchasing the green carts and kitchen pails that will be distributed to households upon the program’s launch, expected to happen in 2030.

This is the second time city staff have proposed increasing the fee before the launch of the program. City councillors voted to reject raising the fee last year, but water and waste committee chair Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) says he supports the proposal.

“I don’t mind now putting in the $9 fee,” Mayes said in an interview.

“At least it gets us going on this project, because otherwise it seems like we’re just approving, you know, the concept over and over again and looking at a six-year implementation time frame, which is … troublingly long.”

The fee will likely increase further once the full program is implemented.

Biweekly collection

Once that happens, the city will consider switching residential garbage collection to every two weeks.

“Typically with jurisdictions that have organics collection programs today, they do have biweekly garbage collection,” Michael Gordichuk, solid waste manager, told reporters. 

“We will look at doing that not on the onset of the program, but certainly after the program has a chance within a couple of years to mature.”

Gordichuk would not speculate what the full fee per household would be. One factor still to be determined is what type of processing facility the city will have.

When council voted last October to approve moving forward with citywide curbside compost pickup, councillors asked city staff to look at options to speed up the start of the program to 2026. The report published on Monday concludes that option is not feasible. 

Design and construction of an organic waste processing facility will likely take two to four years, assuming the city makes land available for the project, Gordichuk wrote in the report.

Another two years would be needed for land procurement, zoning and permitting.

Other jurisdictions have encountered problems with licensing and site locations when they have tried to speed up the implementation process, Gordichuk said.

Interim program

An interim program would allow Winnipeggers to drop off compost at the city’s three 4R depots, which currently accept recycling materials. The report recommends the city contract with the social enterprise Compost Winnipeg to collect the material until the city’s program begins.

“We are delighted to be a part of this stage to start Winnipeggers composting until the City of Winnipeg can bring that citywide composting collection service to single-family dwellings, this is a great solution for people to get started,” said Karrie Blackburn, sales and customer service lead at Compost Winnipeg. 

In addition to the 4R depots, Compost Winnipeg will have up to 14 drop-off locations throughout the city. 

Blackburn says they are in communication with community centres and community gardens, aiming to have locations in areas that will be most accessible.

The water and waste committee will debate the fee proposal at its meeting on Friday, before a full vote of council on July 18.