A special category has been created for non-profit organizations to exempt them from paying huge garbage collection fees.
“At the beginning, it wasn’t really thought out how much this would have an impact on charities and organizations that are trying to provide services in our city,” said Ward 19 councillor Mike Layton.
Organizations that carry out social services, such as St. John the Compassionate Mission, were worried the fee would force them to shut down.
Layton, who worked with Ward 34 councillor and chair of the public works and infrastructure committee Denzil Minnan-Wong to find a solution, said the fee was hastily implemented and charities weren’t consulted.
“I think everyone recognizes a mistake has been made,” Layton said. “This is why pencils have erasers,”
The new category applies to more than 1,000 non-profit, charitable and religious organizations and comes on the heels of a $37.2-million dollar surplus in the solid waste department.
“We figured out a way to do it without opening up and using the surplus,” Layton said. “Staff have worked hard with us to come up with an option that will exempt certain charities and develop a new category for organizations that take donations out of the waste stream and repurpose them.”
Layton previously tried to divert savings from the surplus to exempt the organizations at a meeting of the budget committee, but that failed.
For organizations to be included in the category, they must meet criteria that include them being a registered charity or non-profit organization and they must receive non-monetary public donations such as clothing and food.
The new category takes effect July 1, when the new rates would have commenced and is effective for the remainder of 2012. The acting general manager is to report back on the proposed rates for 2013 to create a more permanent solution.
“As a result, those organizations won’t get billed, and solid waste staff will have to continue to go through and identify the organizations that will be subject to this special category,” Layton said. “We expect there to be some happy folks at some of these charities.”