Last week all but one city councilor voted on and approved the increases to tipping fees, which include bag tags that will come into effect July 4, 2022.
Bag tags will increase by $0.50 per tag for Kenora residents and $1 per tag for non-residents.
Councillor Graham Chaze supports the price increase but voted against the tiered pricing model, which differentiates between Kenora residents and non-residents.
“I just feel like having two different pricing models for the same service sends the wrong message,” said Chaze.
“I believe we’re at a time when we want to encourage non-residents to do business here,” added Chaze. “We want to repair relationships with individuals who feel like they weren’t welcome here due to COVID-19 restrictions.”
The city notes that this is the first increase in bag tag fees in 20 years. The system came into effect in Kenora in 1999 at $1 per tag, which doubled in price in 2000.
In order to differentiate the two, residents will need to provide their driver’s licence, utility bill, or a city tax bill to verify their address with retailers who sell sheets of garbage bag tags.
Chaze noted the verification now creates an unnecessary burden for retailer staff to try and enforce it.
“I’m just thinking about customer service interactions where a retailer is being put in the position of having to explain the need to charge one customer one price and one customer using the same service a different price.”
The city’s Director of Engineering and Infrastructure, Kevin Gannon, suggested that the city will introduce and lay ‘significant’ fines on non-residents who try to purchase and use bag tags labeled for Kenora residents, with spot checks conducted by municipal staff.
Chaze has reached out to his supporters who are residents and non-residents and said they agreed with his perspective on differentiating.
The city would bring in $158,734.00 in extra revenue from the bag tag increases.
He wanted to make it clear that he is in favour of the price increase as it allows the city to put money away in their reserve that will eventually go towards the replacement of their landfill.
“The fees do need to go up, we are in a situation in which there will be a huge burden on the taxpayers to flip the bill to replace that landfill.”
The city’s current landfill was built in 2000 and was designed for a lifespan of 40 years with a designed annual tonnage of 20,265. The cost to construct a new landfill is estimated at $13-15 million dollars and an additional $3-5 million is required for the decommissioning of the old landfill site.
In 2021 the landfill accepted almost 34,000 tons of garbage, or, approximately 167% of the designed annual tonnage. As a result, in a one-year timeframe, the city has reduced its landfill's designed life by 1.67 years.
The yearly tonnage the landfill can handle each year is 26,228.30. Should the City continue to encounter volumes in excess of 26,228 tonnes per year, the lifespan of the facility will continue to erode and require replacement sooner than 2041.
Tipping fees at the Waste Transfer Station are also increasing by May 1 for residents and visitors. A tipping, or gate fee, is paid by residents who dispose of their waste in a landfill and is based on the weight of the garbage being disposed of.
Kenora residents currently pay $15 to dispose of garbage, which will jump to $18 for residents and $20 for non-residents. Commercial garbage fees go up from $90 per tonne to $105 for residents and $120 for non-residents.
Disposing of industrial ash and sewer sludge both only have one rate each, $45 and $105 respectively, but disposing of contaminated soil from construction on the Jones Road’s fees jump from $65 per tonne to $75 and $85 for residents and non-residents.
The city says tipping fees were last updated in 2015, and the newly amended bylaw has also increased a residential garbage bag’s weight limit from 25 pounds to 35 pounds. The city says they’re expected to bring in between $460,000 and $580,000 yearly with the tipping fee increases.