Win for Condos in Barrie
January 23, 2017
Win-Win for Condominium Owners and
Multi-Unit Residences in the City of Barrie
By: Patricia Elia
Most people do not believe in “win-win” solutions and I admit I can be skeptical. However, within the context of condominiums and waste diversion, I think the City of Barrie has found a win-win. As many of you know, throughout Ontario, condominium owners pay for garbage pickup via their municipal taxes and then pay for the same via their condominium fees (a “double hit”). CCI has been bringing awareness to this issue for condominiums throughout Ontario and asking for change. The City of Barrie has listened to the voices of many and decided last year to effect what is really a win for many condominium owners in the fair taxation quest and a win for the environment. The City council voted to pay for (the City already collects the taxes for this – not a freebie) and conduct front bin pick up for multi-storey residences. What is the win here? The win for condominiums is that corporations now no longer have to pay the private pick up costs associated with waste disposal. Are there certain criteria? Yes. Condominiums that are eligible for consideration are required to be part of the organic waste management program, have a waste enclosure and accessibility to municipal roadside pickup.
Who is left out still? Practically, those townhomes that do not have waste enclosure areas on their property and an ability to have municipal roadside pickup will not be included. However, the City has not left them out in the cold completely. The City has agreed to still refund to them the front end tipping fee to contribute towards their private pickup costs. Our discussions with Lindsay Quinn have confirmed that the City is looking for and is open to creative solutions on how to address this, since it really is a matter of physical management. From a CCI Chapter perspective, we think that the municipalities and counties in Huronia can anticipate this problem and try to help the environment and avoid double taxation, thereby resulting in fairer taxation.
1. What is driving this in part? Bill 151 as I understand from Lindsay Quinn, is one of the driving forces whereby municipalities are encouraged to come up with better waste management.
Bill 151, Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 received Royal Assent on June 9th, 2016 formally known as “An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002” http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=3598 is an ambitious waste management plan for the province. The goal of the legislation is to effect “waste reduction” which means the minimization of waste generated at the end of life of products or packaging, including through activities related to design, manufacturing and material use. Well it is about time, you may say given how much we send to the curb in today’s day and age. The legislation states that it is in the provincial interest that Ontario have a system of resource recovery and waste reduction that aims to, among many things:
- protect the natural environment and human health (win);
- foster the continued growth and development of the circular economy;
- minimize greenhouse gas emissions resulting from resource recovery activities and waste reduction activities;
- minimize the generation of waste, including waste from products and packaging;
- increase the durability, reusability and recyclability of products and packaging;
- hold persons who are most responsible for the design of products and packaging responsible for the products and packaging at the end of life;
- decrease hazardous and toxic substances in products and packaging;
- minimize the need for waste disposal;
- minimize the environmental impacts that result from resource recovery activities and waste reduction activities, including from waste disposal;
- provide efficient, effective, convenient and reliable services related to resource recovery and waste reduction, including waste management services;
- increase the reuse and recycling of waste across all sectors of the economy;
- increase opportunities and markets for recovered resources;
- promote public education and awareness with respect to resource recovery and waste reduction;
- promote cooperation and coordination among various persons and entities involved in resource recovery activities and waste reduction activities;
- promote competition in the provision of resource recovery services and waste reduction services;
- foster fairness for consumers;
- do any other related thing that may be prescribed.
In order to support the provincial interest, the Minister is required to:
- develop a strategy entitled Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy in English and Stratégie pour un Ontario sans déchets : Vers une économie circulaire in French; and
- publish it on a website of the Government of Ontario.
Ambitious indeed but is it is one of the underlying and motivating reasons for the City of Barrie’s proactive strategy in waste management.
2. What else can be done?
(i) Thinking ahead in urban planning by requiring that developers develop property that is accessible by waste collection services. With innovations and efficiencies in design, there is no reason why, other than density maximization for creation of units and thereby tax revenue, that communities should not have access to public garbage collection vehicles for which they pay. The irony of course is that density increases, which cause really tight and narrow roadways where public garbage pickup trucks cannot access, is highly unfair when the unit owners are paying the taxes that pay for curbside pickup. Accordingly, more thoughtful and creative urban design in developments will assist the condominium communities and municipalities tremendously and avoid the dispute by anticipating the dispute in advance. I think of how many hours CCI and other members of the community have invested in a worthwhile issue but an issue that should not really be created by urban design.
(ii) Letting CCI Huronia help your voice. As CCI, we are open to helping voice these concerns, which we have done repetitively for a variety of communities and continue to do with respect to fairer taxation and related waste management issues.
Waste management is an ongoing issue for the counties and the municipalities that make up the CCI Huronia jurisdiction. There are a variety of solutions being proposed to help effect solutions and CCI is talking to a number of these municipalities. If you are a condominium director or a board or a unit owner that is actually involved in such efforts, please let us know, as we would like to actually help by supporting your discussion and providing perhaps additional statistical information or other information that can assist in coming up with creative solutions. Our objective is to try to and make sure that unit owners actually have a fair deal and while we truly understand the challenges presented. We applaud Barrie for actually sticking to their agenda, making a commitment and fulfilling that commitment, we know that there are other communities that need this kind of foresight and thinking.
We also believe that the environment is going to really benefit from this dynamic. Apparently, 200 tons of waste will be further diverted from landfill. This project has actually increased landfill lifespan from 2017 to 2035. This is a material piece of growth, but in talking to Ms. Quinn, it is prudent that the City of Barrie is actually being proactive and not sitting down on the job, but is continuing to implement this program. Ms. Quinn has indicated to CCI that 70 more buildings are coming online that are multi-storey, not all condos, but multi-storey, and that this is a program that is being run by three individuals at the City of Barrie. These three individuals sound to me like they are working extremely hard delivering to every multi-storey organic waste bins, developing strategies on pickup days, and trying to cover the whole City of Barrie. In an effort to help them, they would like to know who is managing multi-storey properties because some of the information regarding those communities is not readily accessible. If you would like to directly provide that information to the CCI Huronia (we’ll make sure they get it) or the City of Barrie, you can forward the information to either firstname.lastname@example.org, or Lindsay Quinn, Waste Reduction Co-ordinator; Phone: 705-739-4220 ext 5831; Email: Lindsay.Quinn@barrie.ca.
President, Director and Member of CCI Huronia
B.Comm. LL.B., Adler Trained Coach
Patricia Elia is a senior lawyer with Elia Associates. In her role as a lawyer, she brings expertise in business and condominium law, together with a unique perspective as a condominium director and owner. She believes in empowering communities to grow and thrive
Patricia is passionate about the condominium industry because of the important role condominiums play in the lives of real people. Currently, she is working on a variety of industry related programs and committees with a view to facilitating awareness and knowledge for unit owners, directors, property managers and condominium communities as a whole.