There’s a $1 Million Subsidy for Toronto’s Top Water Polluters

Council keeps voting for a subsidy that gives an incentive to the city’s water polluters. Why?

Torontonians pay more than $1 million annually to subsidize wastewater pollution from over 100 companies. Every year, Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) moves to end this subsidy so that these companies pay the City the cost to treat their pollution. And every year, council votes down this motion.

A majority of councillors believe the economic incentive is part of the price to keep thousands of jobs in town; previous staff reports provided by the City state that prices in surrounding municipalities are higher, and there’s room to move to a cost-recovery model. Environmental advocates and a minority of city councillors call the cost absorption unfair and unproductive to curbing pollution. As part of the rate-supported budget, City Council will vote today on whether to charge companies the full cost of treating the pollutants they release into Toronto sewers.

Under the current program, private companies that release excess pollutants into the public wastewater system are charged only for the pollutant that they emit the most of. This means that anyone who pays for water in Toronto is also paying to treat private companies’ pollutants at an annual cost of around $1.6 million.

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