Metro Vancouver rejects plan to lower garbage tipping fees

Split vote at regional board keeps waste cost at $107 per tonne for 2013

Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt opposed decreasing garbage tipping fees next year

Metro Vancouver will keep its garbage tipping fee at $107 per tonne next year after the regional district board narrowly defeated a planned $2 decrease.

Staff recommended the drop to $105 per tonne because Metro is raising more money than it needs to run the waste system, but a 54-54 tie vote of directors Friday means the 2013 fee will remain unchanged.

Surrey Coun. Marvin Hunt said it makes no sense to temporarily cut garbage tipping fees when Metro forecasts they will soar to $180 a tonne by 2015.

A waste fee cut could prompt businesses to reconsider investing in recycling, he and other directors said, and undermine the diversion efforts of residents.

“I’m perfectly fine leaving it exactly where it is,” said Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, adding the cut would send the wrong signal.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan was among those who voted in favour of the reduction, saying taxpayers are hard enough hit as it is and Metro shouldn’t keep the price artificially higher than necessary.

“I can’t go along with directors from Vancouver, Surrey and Coquitlam who want to tax the public more,” he said.

“The idea that we are on an obligatory path towards making the cost of garbage collection far beyond the means of any homeowner in the Lower Mainland is not what I consider a laudable goal.”

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie backed a lower tipping fee to help dissuade some commercial haulers from trucking waste east out of the region to avoid Metro’s high tipping fees.

“We’ve got to get people recycling,” countered Richmond Coun. Harold Steves. “We should be looking at increasing fees, not reducing them.”

Tipping fees were raised $10 last year from $97 and have soared more than 60 per cent since 2006.

The recent increases are because garbage volumes have fallen in line with the economic downturn, generating less revenue and forcing users to pick up a bigger share of fixed costs.

But the fee will be pushed higher in coming years because of Metro’s aggressive initiatives to increase recycling and to develop a new waste-to-energy plant.

Metro will cut its mattress recycling fee from $20 to $15 per mattress to more accurately reflects the costs.