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Garbage, Levy
03/03/2005

The Armchair Garbageman has written recently about the City of Toronto's plans to charge fees to apartments and condos to encourage them to divert more waste from the landfill.

So far, the City has been making good progress in its diversion plans, but multi-unit housing has been a stumbling block. It seems inconvenient for building owners and residents to separate recyclables. However, the City seems to think that with a little encouragement they can do better. That would certainly be the case in my former building, where many residents weren't recycling because the blue bins provided by management were about 200 metres from the building and always full.

More intelligent writers on the right wing have told us about the wonders of "the market". For example, paying a price for an item sends a signal to both the consumer and the producer about what the product is worth. The more expensive something is, the more we need to want it before we will buy it.

Someone at City Hall must really be thinking, because they've now applied this concept in the wonderful world of trash. Namely, they are using a price to send a signal to the apartment and condo community that throwing recyclables into the garbage is annoying. If you throw your newspapers and cans into the trash, the City has to ship it to Michigan and risk the ire of Angry Americans. On the other hand, if you recycle your stuff you won't have to pay the price and the City won't have to deal with the transborder dumping.

Then we have the more reactionary writers on the right wing. For example, here's what Sue-Ann Levy wrote in the Sun:

But the levy is nothing more than one of the many desperate methods Mayor David Miller and his fellow leftists utilized to balance the books. If I ruled things at City Hall, they'd be slapped with another kind of Waste Reduction Levy (let's call it the Levy levy) for throwing endless money away on their pet projects.

As a condo owner receiving city garbage pickup I'll be subject to the socialist levy -- on top of the taxes I pay at the same rate as homeowners, plus my condo fees - if my building is deemed not to have recycled enough.

Well then... she'll just have to start recycling, and then she'll see the power of prices to communicate a message... even a message to the most unwilling and stubborn.


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