Yes, an Environmental SWAT Team does exist.
The City of Toronto began charging a fee on garbage collected at condominium and other mult-residential buildings on July 1, 2008. The basis for this fee, besides the promotion of recycling, likely stems from Regulation 103/94, a long ago enacted and historically dormant 1994 Regulation under the Ontario Environmental Protection Act,
Regulation 103/94 calls for the implementation of “Source Separation Programs” in all multi-unit residential buildings across Ontario; however the Ministry of the Environment did not have a system in place to monitor conformity. Therefore in 2001 an Environmental SWAT Team (now called the Sector Compliance Branch) was dispatched by the Ministry to undertake inspections of multi-unit residential buildings for compliance with the Regulation’s Source Separation Program in cities across Ontario. The SWAT team’s initial efforts were described by the Ministry as follows:
"The team began its inspections of multi-unit residences on July 31, 2001 and continued with its inspections for four weeks. Working from lists provided by the City of Toronto, the team targeted multi-unit residences in Toronto (focusing on Scarborough and North York) that were suspected to be in non-compliance. The team then expanded its inspections to the areas of Ottawa, Kingston and Belleville. In total, they conducted 103 inspections."
A “Source Separation Program,” under section 2(1) of the Regulation, must include:
- the provision of facilities for the collection, handling and storage of source separated wastes described in subsection (2) adequate for the quantities of anticipated wastes;
- measures to ensure that the source separated wastes that are collected are removed;
- the provision of information to users and potential users of the program describing the performance of the program and encouraging effective source separation of waste and full use of the program;
- reasonable efforts to ensure that full use is made of the program and that the separated waste is reused or recycled.
Section 10 of the Regulation defines multi-unit residential buildings as those with 6 or more dwelling units located in municipalities with a population of at least 5000. An “owner” of a multi-unit residential building is deemed to include “a condominium corporation created under the Condominium Act.” And condos should be sure to follow the above guidelines at a minimum.
A good start in implementing a Source Separation Program is to launch an effective recycling regime in the building. There is no charge in Toronto for the collection of any volume of recyclable material and the City has made recyclable collection extremely user friendly by dispensing with the sorting requirement. Recyclable material collected from condo buildings is now sorted mechanically at a sorting facility. The City has also made the transition easier by publishing a Recycling Handbook for Owners, Property Managers and Superintendents to help implement the Source Separation Program in Toronto.
So far, condos and other multi-residential buildings have been free to self-govern their building’s compliance with Regulation 103/94. The actual fees charged for garbage collection are still in flux. The garbage fees themselves may be enough of an incentive for a condo corporation in Toronto to implement and monitor Source Separation Programs in their buildings. We hope that our condo friends outside of the GTA have begun to implement their own Source Separation Programs so that if the SWAT comes knocking on the door, they are met with a clean and green building.