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Tax on Waste Removal Aims to Reduce

Toronto residents may have to pay more, or less, to get their garbage picked up, according to a new tax being proposed by the City. The new policy calls for an equal rate, regardless of your property's assessed value. That means urbanites living a sustainable life downtown in their upscale homes will get a break (woo hoo!), while gas-guzzling climate-crisis-perpetuating suburbanites living in cookie-cutters will have to pay more, compared to what they're used to.

It's a step along the right path, in my opinion- promoting the sustainable lifestyle. The more you recycle/reuse items, the less garbage you make, the less you have to pay for the city to come pick it up. In Vancouver, where a similar scheme is already in place, homeowners choose from four different sized garbage bins, which determines the cost of schlepping your waste away.

The new levy may work the same way the hydro company does, with monthly bills being sent out to homeowners. The goal, besides trying to convince us to waste less, is to reduce the strain on property taxes (property taxes in Toronto are set to increase by 3.8% this year). It's really more of a money re-shuffle- instead of an even higher rate of increase for your property taxes; the money for waste removal will be collected as a "user fee" or "parcel tax".

The critics are up in arms though, touting this as another "rich get richer, poor get poorer" tactic. I can see the potential for concern, but with this system, the onus is really on the homeowner. Everyone will be charged equally, depending on how much garbage you throw away. Another worry is the fact that while City hall has said there will be no new sales or income taxes, no parameters have been set to control these parcel taxes. Services like street lighting and road maintenance might be regulated this way in the future, too.

The new waste removal tax is labeled as a "pay-as-you-throw" system, and I think it's about time we're personally held accountable for the amount of waste we produce. It should be noted, filling up extra blue or green bins will not incur more tax, which will hopefully motivate people to throw less into the waste bin, and more into the recycling/compost.

Heck, you could even go as far as decreasing the amount of pre-packaged foods you buy, getting take-out from restaurants that only use recyclable containers, and bringing your groceries home in reusable cotton bags instead of those omnipresent plastic buggers. Reducing your waste is now not only a personal, karma-boosting decision, but a decision that could save you some cash!

Photo: Stephanie Town


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