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This article was published 13/9/2021 (287 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Local newspapers are asking the City of Winnipeg to make a compromise to deal with four years' worth of unpaid recycling dues.
News Media Canada is offering free advertising to the city — which it can use to promote initiatives or give space to non-profits — in lieu of paying newspaper-collection and processing fees to Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba.
"We've always argued we just didn't have the money to pay," said Bob Cox, the past chair of News Media Canada — a national trade organization representing daily and community papers — and publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press.
Businesses supplying packaging and printed paper pay fees on their materials to Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba. The money is used to reimburse municipalities on the cost of their residential recycling programs.
The province paid the cost of newspaper recycling until 2017, when it ended its agreement. Newspapers haven't taken over the role, so Winnipeg hasn't received money from its newspaper-recycling program since.
The city is owed $912,064 as of December. That number could balloon to $4,667,177 by the end of 2025, according to a city report.
News Media Canada is pitching the idea that the city gets credits for advertising instead of cash.
"We think it's a good compromise to tackle the whole issue and make sure the city is compensated for recycling, while at the same time, making sure newspapers aren't burdened by huge costs they can't afford," Cox said.
Similar initiatives have been implemented in Ontario and British Columbia, he said. He's worked on the idea for the last year-and-a-half but has been trying to find ways to meet the recycling-payment shortfall since 2017.
"(We're) obviously disappointed that the province stopped paying, but we have to deal with the reality, and I think this is the best solution," Cox said.
The city's water and waste committee had mixed reviews to the proposal Monday.
Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood — East Kildonan) questioned how the city might use the advertising space.
"The idea it's not going to be politicized, to me, is absolutely ridiculous," he said.
However, Cox told council earlier the spots would be used for city initiatives and administrative messages, not political campaigns.
Winnipeg could use its credits to advertise environmental or sustainability programs, a city report outlined. The scope could potentially be expanded to other city initiatives.
"There really is no other resolution. There's no money," Moira Geer, the city's director of water and waste, said at a Monday committee meeting. "This is how to bridge that gap. It's good for the media... and it's good for the city."
Winnipeg spends approximately $500,000 per year on advertising with News Media Canada partners.
The proposal has been moved to the executive policy committee for councillors to discuss.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.