Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 13, 2014 - 8:47 am

Last-minute incinerator demand means increase in Iqaluit garbage fees

City’s 2014 budget proposal will likely lead to higher fees, higher mill rate

PETER VARGA
John Hussey, chief administrative officer at the City of Iqaluit, explains some details of the city’s proposed budget for 2014 at day two of budget discussions, Jan. 10, as Mayor John Graham, left, and city councillors Mary Wilman and Kenny Bell listen closely. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)
John Hussey, chief administrative officer at the City of Iqaluit, explains some details of the city’s proposed budget for 2014 at day two of budget discussions, Jan. 10, as Mayor John Graham, left, and city councillors Mary Wilman and Kenny Bell listen closely. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Iqaluit residents may soon see their garbage disposal fees rise for the first time in more than a decade.

Questions about the fees emerged in day two of Iqaluit city council’s discussions on the city’s 2014 budget, Jan. 10.

Council’s last-minute demand in December to include an incinerator in plans for a new waste disposal site means the city will have to start increasing residential garbage disposal fees earlier than expected, city administrators said.

That means residents could see an increase in garbage disposal fees of 30 percent over the next three years, the first increases in more than a decade, Hussey said.

Right now, the fee is $55 every two months.

The city’s plans originally called for an incinerator to be phased into the new waste disposal site by 2018, Hussey told council.

The new waste site, to be located about 8.5 kilometres northwest of the city centre, is slated to start operating in 2015 at the earliest.

Plans to go ahead with this stalled Dec. 10, when council decided the city must include an incinerator within the new waste plan as early as 2015, rather than wait until 2018.

Council’s insistence on including an incinerator has also forced administration to change its budgeting plan for the new piece of garbage-disposal equipment, Hussey said.

“The incineration equipment would be paid for out of gas tax money,” which was to be received in late 2017 or 2018, Hussey told council.

But council insisted this purchase be moved forward by two years.

City administrators estimate an incinerator will cost the city between $6 million and $10 million, Hussey said.

To put the equipment into commission two years ahead of schedule without gas tax money, administration proposed to increase residential garbage disposal fees by 10 per cent per year over the next three years.

Mayor John Graham agreed it’s time to raise collection fees for residential garbage.

At $3.44 per pickup for each resident, twice a week, “we’re charging almost nothing” for residential garbage pick-up, he said.

“I couldn’t drive my truck to the dump and drop off my bags twice a week, with what we’re charging right now,” Graham said.

Residential pick-up fees have not changed since at least 2000, city administrators said.

Coun. Kenny Bell asked on what grounds city administration based its figures for the increase.

“Giving a round number like 30 per cent seems a bit strange to me,” Bell said. “I think we need to plan for it.”

Bell noted the city’s department of engineering told council the city would need to hire a consultant to conduct “technical analysis” on any proposed incineration equipment before it is purchased.

“We really have no idea of what we’re talking about until we talk to some actual professionals in the field,” he said.

Hussey replied that garbage trucks are run by two city employees whose salaries increase on an annual basis, as does the cost of fuel and maintenance.

“We’ve got the increased costs, and we’re still charging residents $55 for the last decade,” he said.

Bell pointed out that costs of practically all city services will rise in 2014, as will the city’s mill rate.

“Prices will always be increasing regardless,” said Coun. Simon Nattaq. “If we want that incinerator, we will have to increase prices, and that’s all there is to it.”

Despite council’s insistence on including an incinerator in the city’s waste disposal plan, Hussey admitted that the city has yet to find any garbage-incineration technology that will work in Iqaluit.

“We want to see them actually operating for real,” Hussey said, adding that the city has yet to find any tried, proven and operational incinerator in Canada.

“Once we can see one that’s working and showing this much garbage goes in, and this much garbage goes out — that’s the goal of it all.”

Sales people for waste incineration companies have yet to demonstrate any equipment that works in Canadian communities, he said.

“That’s what we need, is for them to show us how it’ll work,” Hussey said.

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