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This article was published 21/12/2020 (224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The city is seeking a consultant to determine the cost of a composting facility that could process organic waste for all of Winnipeg.
In late 2019, a preliminary city estimate predicted an organic waste processing facility would cost from $25 million to $58 million. Council has yet to commit to a citywide composting program but is preparing to vote on one around 2023.
A request for proposals now aims to finalize the full tab to design and construct the organic waste facility, plus 20 years of maintenance and operating costs.
"This is going to be a huge part of the cost," said Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), chairperson of council’s water and waste committee.
The city once expected citywide compost collection could cost each homeowner $55 to $100 a year, while recent property tax hikes equated to about $40 per year, said Mayes.
"That gives you an idea (that) this will be a big commitment," he said.
The potential price increase did create a backlash in 2016, when some city councillors deemed it far too expensive to pursue.
Michael Gordichuk, Winnipeg’s manager of solid waste services, said those who bid on the current request for proposals will be required to price out an indoor composting facility, as well as an outdoor one that’s similar to what the city uses to process yard waste.
Indoor facilities that are able to compost bones, meat and other food waste, not just fruit and vegetable scraps, are the most expensive option, he said.
"It’s all really about the type of program you want to offer and administer and how much you are willing to spend," he said.
The city started a two-year pilot project for organic waste collection at 4,000 Winnipeg homes in October. The results of that project and the cost estimate for the composting facility should be released in the third quarter of 2023. That’s when city council could actually vote on a Winnipeg-wide program.
The city originally expected to add a full curbside compost pickup program in 2017 but that was delayed several times, largely due to concerns about how to pay for the service.
In addition to the composting facility, Winnipeg officials also estimated last year that citywide collection would cost another $17 million to implement, plus $9.6 million of annual operating costs.
Mayes said he believes an increasing number of Winnipeggers support curbside compost collection, with some recently asking for the service.
"A few years ago, I was very concerned with the cost and I wasn’t sure how much the public really wanted to do this. My thinking has evolved to (believing) we should do this," he said.
The pricing contract is expected to cost up to $160,000. The deadline for bids is Jan. 18, 2021.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.