New landfill fees are being proposed for 2021, as the City of Quesnel updates the fees and charges set out for City services.
Council reviewed proposed amendments to the City’s comprehensive fees and charges bylaw and approved the first three readings of the bylaw at the Oct. 27 council meeting.
The updated fees would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
“The fee increases are to cover the costs of inflation, to ensure enough funds are available for capital replacement programs and to ensure service sustainability for areas such as the landfill,” Kari Bolton, the City’s director of corporate and financial services, told council.
The fee changes have been reviewed and recommended by the City’s Financial Sustainability and Audit Committee.
Two new fees are being added for 2021.
Starting Jan. 1, all commercial cardboard going over the weigh scale at the landfill will be charged $50 per tonne to help offset the cost to process it, which is more than $100 per tonne, explains Bolton. There will be a $5 minimum charge.
“This is something we looked at this summer when we started weighing all the cardboard going over the scale, and now we’re implementing the fee,” said Bolton.
Residential cardboard can continue to go to the recycling depot for free.
As well, there will be a charge for mattresses being dropped off at the landfill starting Jan. 1, 2021. Mattresses would cost $10 each if the load was 150 kilograms or less, or $10 each plus weight as garbage.
“They are quite cumbersome to deal with,” said Bolton.
Coun. Ron Paull was concerned that with the introduction of a fee for dropping off mattresses at the landfill, there could be more mattresses dumped on roads. He recalled living in Fort St. John, and when the City of Fort St. John implemented charges for the disposal of appliances, he saw quite a few appliances such as refrigerators dumped at the end of the road.
“As we move forward with this, we need to be cognizant of putting penalty provisions into our bylaws to help mitigate this problem,” he said.
City manager Byron Johnson says this concern is always raised when new fees like this are implemented, but increased dumping does not seem to materialize.
“There may be the odd instances of people dumping something inappropriately because of the fee structure — I’m not saying it never happens — but in general, it doesn’t happen near as much as we’re concerned about,” he said. “In fact, at one point when we closed our landfill on Mondays, we put cameras out there to make sure anyone who was going to illegally dump, we would be able to identify, and it didn’t happen.”
When it comes to the landfill, the maximum tonnage has been lowered to 150 kilograms for residential.
“Staff reviewed the data, and over 90 per cent of residential loads are under 150 kilograms,” noted Bolton. “The intent is to continue to encourage people to recycle as much as possible and reduce their waste as much as possible, but to ensure that traffic is not slowed down significantly at the scale while the City continues to look for more ways to encourage zero waste.”
Staff will fully implement the policy that all commercial vehicles bringing in single family residential waste must pay commercial rates, Bolton noted in her report.
“The landfill will see significant costs in the near future, as the City moves towards building a landfill berm to increase lifespan and looks to a future expansion and methane capture,” wrote Bolton.
Landfill fees have increased from $80 per tonne to $90 per tonne for mixed waste, from $100 per tonne to $110 per tonne for demolition land clearing, and from $200 per tonne to $250 per tonne for asbestos. As well, an interest charge has been added for all invoices that are over 30 days.
Increases are also being proposed for water and sewer utility fees.
City staff has recommended continuing with the five-per-cent increase to water utility rates, which would be an extra $10.76 annually per household, and two-per-cent increase to water service rates.
“There are significant projects scheduled for the water fund,” wrote Bolton. “It is hoped that some grants will be received towards these projects.”
Staff is also recommending a five-per-cent increase to sewer utility rates, which would be an extra $13 per household annually, and a two-per-cent increase to sewer service rates.
“The sewer fund has been in good shape, and it was expected that only inflationary increases would be needed,” noted Bolton. “However, with the Baker Creek flooding resulting in the need to rebuild the sewer line and the withdrawal of funds to fund the Public Works building, staff is recommending a five-per-cent increase to utility rates and two per cent to service rates.”
Airport fees have been increased two per cent to put the Quesnel Regional Airport fees in line with others.
“The fees were compared to other airports and are in the same range as other airports,” noted Bolton.
Cemetery plot fees will also increase in the city.
“Staff reviewed these rates in detail to ensure they were reflecting actual costs and that all items were included,” wrote Bolton. “Plot fees were raised 10 per cent for adults, and all non-resident plot fees were changed to 200 per cent of resident fees for consistency.”
The comprehensive fees bylaw still needs to come back to council for adoption.