A group representing large condominium owners wants to be able to either opt-out or be exempt from being part of the City of Lethbridge curbside recycling program.

Beginning in 2021, apartment buildings and condos with more than 45 units will start being part of the city’s blue cart program.

Group spokesperson Brian Freeze though, says they want the bylaw changed which will either offer condo owners an exemption or the ability to simply opt-out.

He notes compared to the city’s $7.00 a month recycling fee, the private companies they use are a lot cheaper. He told Council’s Community Issues Committee on Monday (Sept. 14) that right now, they’re only charged between $0.52 (52 cents) and $2.67 per unit for recycling.

“Why can we do it for such a low cost? Because we’re essentially sorting materials using volunteers,” Freeze told Council. “We don’t have a facility cost like your (city) recycling facility (MRF). We don’t have those overhead costs. Essentially, we have done a very good job at doing it.”

If the condo owners had to pay the $7.00 a unit from the city, that would increase their recycling costs substantially. That would mean the additional cost would more than likely have to passed on to their condo and apartment residents, many of whom are seniors, in the form of increased condo fees.

Freeze also stressed to Councillors that these private recycling companies should not be pushed out because of the city’s program. “They’re very important for the job that we do with recycling at these condos. They’re essential. They charge us a very minimal amount to collect these materials and yet they still make a profit in selling the recyclables.”

Councillors will discuss possible changes during their next meeting on September 21st.