Years-long wait for curbside compost program ‘disappointing’ for Winnipeg homeowner

For Winnipeg homeowners like Christine Braun, the only way to get curbside compost pickup is to pay a private company around $420 per year to come to her house and collect it.

The City of Winnipeg has begun the process of setting up its own residential composting program, but it will be years before it is up and running. 

Braun says she and her family can afford to pay for private collection, but she wishes the city program would start sooner.

“When we moved here from Ottawa two years ago, we had had curbside compost service for probably about a decade,” Braun said.

“And so when we got here, I started looking at options. I was surprised that there was no curbside compost in Winnipeg.”

Winnipeg has debated ways to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills for more than a decade.

Last year, council made the decision to move forward with a city-run residential composting program.

A $9 annual fee will go into effect next year to help pay for green carts and kitchen pails, but the program isn’t expected to start until 2030.

Braun wonders why it’s taking so long.

“I would say that it’s disappointing that we’re not as far ahead as I think other cities are, and that we could be.”

Part of the reason for the delay is the city lacks a facility to process the material.

It’s looking for a private contractor to build and operate one, possibly at the Brady Road landfill.

In the meantime, the city plans to partner with Compost Winnipeg to allow residents to drop off compost at 4R depots and other locations.

Garrett Leblanc is the lead driver, picking up from households around the city for Compost Winnipeg, a social enterprise that offers fee-based compost pickup.

“It’s definitely disappointing that it hasn’t been happening already, but the fact that it’s happening now is just great. And a little late, but better late than never,” he said.

The city looked at ways of getting the program operating by 2026, but a report concluded that would not be feasible.

Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), the head of the city’s water and waste committee, says he supports charging homeowners an increased fee now, although he says it will likely increase further once collection begins.

“The $9 is kind of the first leg of the relay here,” he said.

“We’ve got a much bigger question of how much we’re going to ask people to fund for this program. The main cost is going to be the collection. Is this $80 a year, $98 year per year, $100 per year?”

Other cities, like Regina, have bypassed the need for a processing facility by opting to use an outdoor pad to deposit the compost material. 

Mayes says he would like city staff to explore whether the city could use the pad at the Prairie Green landfill, just north of the city, where Compost Winnipeg currently takes the material it collects. 

The city’s new plan for curbside composting still has to approved by council next month.