Ban On Curbside Lawn Waste Won't Signal Lower Utility Bills, Mayor Says

'Will the cost of your utility bill go down? Probably not.' But it will rise more slowly, Don Iveson says

 Edmonton is mulling a proposal to end curbside collection of grass and yard clippings across the city. (City of Edmonton)

Edmonton is mulling a proposal to end curbside collection of grass and yard clippings across the city. (City of Edmonton)

A ban on grass, leaves and yard clippings from city garbage trucks will not leave Edmonton homeowners with any extra green in their pockets, Mayor Don Iveson says.

By September, Edmontonians will have to leave grass clippings on their lawn or compost them on their own, if proposed changes to the city's waste management system are approved.

That prompted CBC readers to question whether the decrease in service will mean a break in property taxes.

But in his regular Mayor's phone-in segment on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM, Iveson said Edmontonians should not expect a rebate on their taxes or utility bills.

"Your taxes aren't paying for the collection and processing of lawn clippings right now. That's actually included within the waste utility fees that you pay."

"So will the cost of your utility bill go down? Probably not.

"But will it rise more slowly if we don't have to expand facilities to handle as much grass waste over time? Yes, presumably."

The changes, which would  divert up to 50,000 tonnes of grass, leaves and yard clippings each year from the landfill, were presented to a utility committee last Friday as a way to improve the city's struggling waste management system.

Grass clippings and other yard waste clog up the landfill and cause costly damage to processing machines.  

Even if there is no immediate rebate associated with the new policy, the changes in curbside collection would result in reduced operational costs for the city — savings which would eventually be passed on to taxpayers, said Iveson.

"It would mean that we need to build fewer facilities and that means less cost and wear and tear on our equipment and operators over time," Iveson said.

"And because our systems are all cost-recovery systems, that would mean lower rates over time. But in terms of an immediate rebate, that's not likely."

The ban on yard-waste collection is among a series of anticipated changes to the city's waste management system, including possible limits on weekly household waste and new guidelines for separating kitchen scraps.

A recent audit found the city is diverting only half of its residential waste from the landfill, far short of its goal of 90 per cent.