Councillor Josh Matlow

CBC: Trash pickup privatization hinges on new conditions

Toronto city council has agreed to look to private companies to pick up residential garbage in the west end, but added a number of conditions to closely monitor the bidding process.

City council voted 32 to 13 on Tuesday evening to accept quotations from private companies for residential garbage collection in the area of the city west of Yonge Street to the border with Etobicoke, where private pickup is already in place.

For Rob Ford, it was a crucial win on a campaign issue he used to help propel himself into the mayor’s office.

“We’re not going to go through these 40-day strikes,” he said, referring to the 2009 strike by Toronto’s municipal workers that disrupted garbage collection and closed daycares, community centres and swimming pools.

“You know at the end of the day, it’s a huge victory,” he said after the vote.

But things didn’t go entirely Ford ‘s way, as council passed a number of amendments he voted against.


Independent review coming

Coun. Josh Matlow introduced three such motions, all of which passed. One of them stipulates that any bidders must be able to demonstrate they can provide the cost savings city staff says privatization will yield. Staff currently estimates the move will save about $8 million.

Council also passed another motion by Ana Bailao that calls for an independent review of the costs of contracting a private company and those services provided by the city.

Coun. Shelley Carroll voted in favour of accepting private quotations for curbside pickup.

But she told CBC’s Metro Morning she is nevertheless opposed to the privatization plan, and was only appeased by the concessions made in council.

Those concessions, she said, would show “the savings the mayor’s promising just aren’t quite there.”

“Well the pacing now is such that we can now take not just Mayor Ford’s spin, but we can take the facts out to the community when this comes to pass much later in the year.”

Council also voted in favour of another Matlow motion that bans Progressive Waste Solutions from bidding. The company has just hired the city’s manager of solid waste Geoff Rathbone, who resigned recently.

Earlier Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday introduced a motion stipulating a council vote would be needed for approval of any private bids.

A sticking point of the original plan for many on council was a recommendation to have a committee comprised of unelected city staff – and not council – vote to select the bid.

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