Some condominium owners in Regina believe the city has failed them regarding garbage pickup.
While city council finalized its budget on Tuesday night, one item that was not included for 2018 was the condo waste disposal rebate.
First introduced in 2002, the rebate was given to those condo corporations that had to contract out collection to private companies because city garbage trucks could not physically enter or had difficulty gaining access to buildings.
During budget deliberations last year, council decided to end that rebate as the city looked to save money after the provincial budget was unveiled. Administration has pegged the savings to be $250,000.
“This is a blow to the seniors who have chosen this type of home ownership and as well, it’s just unfair taxation. It’s upsetting,” said Norm Brown from the Prescott Condominium Corporation in the city’s east end, which represents 96 units.
Brown spoke to council in favour of reinstating the rebate, adding he also had the support of the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute which represents condo corporations throughout the city.
“I would argue that eliminating it represents a failure by the city to provide the services that it has collected the taxes to pay for,” he said Tuesday night. “In addition, I suggest that the elimination of the waste disposal rebate is discriminatory against certain classes of homeowners, namely the condominium owners.”
Brown said there are about 6,000 condo owners in Regina.
An amendment was made by councillor Lori Bresciani to have the rebate reinstated. That would have accounted for a 0.11 per cent tax increase on top of the 4.34 per cent number that was eventually finalized.
Councillors were divided on the issue.
“Just because I never use a fire truck because I’ve never had a fire in my house doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pay for the fire services,” argued councillor Sharron Bryce.
Councillor Jerry Flegel countered and said for many homeowners if a fire truck came, that would be covered through regular property taxes. However, these condo owners are paying for the work twice.
“These people pay an extra bill to have their garbage picked up. That’s the difference. We’re double taxing on them,” said Flegel.
“We put in a rebate for a reason,” said Bresciani. “They want the garbage pickup, but they can’t have it. So, if they can’t have it, don’t you think the city should be reimbursing them for that?”
Ultimately, the amendment was defeated by a close 6-5 vote.
City administration said collection is provided to 500 units out of the 11,500 units in the city. However, staff said they are working to offer the service to more condo associations. A report is being undertaken to consider different funding options for curbside services.
In the meantime, Brown said his condo corp. will lose $4,000 in funding which then has to be paid for by owners. Many others across Regina will be faced with a similar predicament.
“It’s definitely a disappointment,” he said.