Mounting Garbage Collection Costs Push Montreal’s Affordability Limits, Raising Concerns among Elected Officials

Mounting Garbage Collection Costs Push Montreal’s Affordability Limits, Raising Concerns among Elected Officials

The costs of garbage collection in Montreal are increasing to such an extent that elected officials fear the city will soon be unable to afford it, even though it has already reduced services. According to a report by the Montreal City Contracts Review Commission, at this rate, it will no longer be possible to offer the same services to the Montreal population while respecting taxpayers’ ability to pay.

Despite reducing the frequency of some collections to as little as once every three weeks in certain areas, the city is unable to lower the price of waste collection. On Monday May 15th, at the city council meeting, elected officials were preparing to award six contracts for waste collection and transportation for the boroughs of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Saint-Laurent, and Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension. The costs are 80% higher than what officials had estimated. For Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, it represents an unexpected expense of $36 million over five years, due to the lack of better offers from private companies.

The significant inflation, labor shortage, and lack of competition are cited as reasons for this tremendous increase. Marie-Andrée Mauger, the responsible party for the environment in the Plante administration, said she is seeking solutions to adapt future calls for tenders in order to reduce costs. She points out that a similar phenomenon is being observed in other places, such as Laval and Quebec City, where the average increase in contract costs is around 40%.

Fewer collections, but more expensive

While costs increase, services are decreasing. In the three boroughs covered by the contracts, the number of household waste collections will be reduced. In Ahuntsic and Villeray, collections will now take place every two weeks, gradually starting in 2026. This decision comes at a time when Parc-Extension is already dealing with sanitation issues due to waste accumulation, as reported frequently by Park-Ex News. In certain areas of Saint-Laurent, collections will be even less frequent, taking place every three weeks starting in 2025. However, this reduction in frequency has not had the desired effect of lowering prices.

The elected officials of the Montreal City Contracts Review Commission have also wondered if the fact that the company Ricova was blacklisted has further limited the market. It should be noted that Montreal prevented Ricova from obtaining any new contracts after the Office of the Inspector General revealed misconduct in the management of recycling sorting centers.