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Regina doesn’t make the grade when it comes to waste management, according to a recent report.

Municipal Benchmarking Network (MBN) Canada measured the amount of household recyclables and organics kept out of landfills in 15 cities across Canada in 2015. The average was 46 per cent. Regina diverted 18 per cent, the least amount measured.

MBN Canada is a partnership of municipalities that measure and compare data and report on it annually in order to improve policies. Regina joined the partnership in the fall of 2015.

Lisa Legault, Director of Solid Waste for the City of Regina, says Regina’s waste diversion program is new. The recycling program is only in its third year and the city doesn’t offer other programs like organic pickup.

“Diversion requires a change in culture and a change in behaviour and we approach the program with a service that most people understand and can easily adopt,” she says.

But some citizens say behavior has changed already and the city needs to catch up.

Jim Elliott is a long-time recycling advocate in Regina and ran for mayor in the city’s municipal election in October.

“I think the citizens have called for a better program than we have,” he says. “When we landed the big blue bins in the shopping malls, that was a matter of we had to kind of push them. We were recycling plastics in the 1990s when the rest of the city wasn’t.”

Elliott says the city needs to provide economic incentives for residents to recycle. Right now residents pay $90 a year for curbside recycling. Elliott thinks residents should have to pay for garbage pickup instead.

There would be “an economic incentive for people to reduce their garbage because it will actually reduce their bills that they get from the city,” he says.

The majority of cities in the MBN report are from southern Ontario. As for why Regina is so far behind them, Legault says those cities have more mature programs. They also don’t have as much room for landfills and have to dispose of waste differently. Regina doesn’t have that problem.

“Western Canada has always been a culture where we have vast land mass and landfilling is traditionally the least expensive method of discarding waste,” she says.

The City of Regina will bring plans for an organics pickup program to council in 2017.


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