Councillor Josh Matlow

Toronto Star: Company banned? City says yes, company says no

Daniel Dale Urban Affairs Reporter

Toronto City Council voted in May to ban Progressive Waste Solutions from bidding on garbage collection contracts.

At least, that’s what council thinks it did. Progressive, whose hiring of city waste chief Geoff Rathbone prompted the council decision, isn’t so sure.


Progressive spokesperson Chaya Cooperberg said Tuesday that the council decision was “not so cut-and-dried” — and that the company might submit a bid after all.

The motion passed by council reads: “In the interests of ensuring public confidence in the transparency and fairness of the bidding process, direct staff not to consider any bid received from Progressive Waste Solutions Ltd.”

Said Cooperberg: “If you actually read, or dig into the details, of what council voted on, they didn’t say that we could not participate, or could not submit a bid. What they did say was, they recommended that council not consider it should one be submitted. So it’s worded quite delicately.”

Cooperberg said Progressive is assessing its options, including whether it can “encourage council to actually review the proposal should we submit a bid.”

But a spokesperson for the city’s purchasing department was blunt: “If Progressive or one of its affiliates submits a bid, we will not open their bid.” Cooperberg’s comments baffled both the author of the ban motion, Councillor Josh Matlow, and public works committee chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who voted against the motion.

“I think council’s direction is quite clear and specific: council is not interested in allowing them to bid,” Minnan-Wong said.

Said Matlow: “In a literal way, sure, they can write whatever they want. They can write a novel as long as War and Peace. But if they submit it to our staff, our staff aren’t going to consider it.”

When the TTC voted in 2006 to give Bombardier a no-bid contract for subway cars, executives at rival Siemens publicized a lower estimate in an attempt to put pressure on council to reverse the decision to sole-source the deal.

Cooperberg said in May that a lawsuit against the city was one of the options Progressive was weighing. Asked if Progressive would still consider a bid in light of the comments of the councillors and the city spokesperson, she said Friday: “To reiterate what I told you earlier this week and last month, our position has not changed — we continue to evaluate our options.”

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