City moves closer to contracting out garbage service
(Written for Town Crier April 26.)
Toronto's Public Works Committee has voted to push ahead with Mayor Rob Ford's plan to contract out garbage collection west of Yonge St. Photo by Dan Hoddinott and Illustration by Shadi Raoufi/Town Crier.
The city has moved closer to contracting out residential trash collection west of Yonge Street.
Despite every resident or group who presented to the Public Works Committee during the nine hour proceeding speaking against the idea, councillors voted 4–2 to put garbage collection out to tender along with cleaning up parks and litter vacuuming of all the city’s streets.
Public works committee chair Denzil Minnan-Wong told the media privatization will reduce the size and cost of government.
“It will save us over the life of contract – $60 million,” he said.
City staff recommended the city seek bids for contracts of between five to nine years that could cost the city about $250 million. It will also reduce the city’s workforce by at least 300 jobs and save the city about $8 million a year, according to the report.
Contracting out curbside waste collection west of Yonge Street for up to nine years would be worth between $200–300 million according to what Geoff Rathbone, general manager of the solid waste management told the committee.
A seven to nine year contract for litter and recycling collection in city parks would be worth about $30 million. A five year contract to operate mechanical litter vacuums would be worth less than $20 million as would a contingency contract to pick-up residential garbage citywide (in the event of a public contract disruption).
Posted in garbage
Tagged bid, city, committee, contract, garbage, Kris Scheuer, Mayor Rob Ford, privatize, Toronto, Town Crier, trash, works
Mayor says wait until parade’s over to vote on funding
(Written for Town Crier April 18.)
Mayor Rob Ford said the city will wait to see if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in the Pride parade before the city decides whether to fund it. Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.
Mayor Rob Ford is taking a wait and see attitude before deciding if Pride Toronto should receive city funding this year.
For Ford, the funding issue hangs on whether the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid participates in this year’s Pride festival.
If the organization doesn’t participate, then Ford said that Pride Toronto can still get a city grant of about $125,000.
“Last year council agreed if they don’t (participate), they (Pride) will get their money after the parade. That’s what we agreed on,” the mayor said at an April 15 media scrum. “If they (group) does march in the parade (Pride) won’t get their money.”
The city also provides in kind services for police security and clean-up worth around $250,000. The mayor did not know if those city services would be impacted if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid aka QuAIA participates in the parade.
QuAIA issued a statement April 15 announcing that it would not march in the parade, but would instead participate in activities outside the parade. It said now there will be no excuse not to fund Pride.
“Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up,” stated Elle Flanders with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. “By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed.”
Posted in Toronto culture
Tagged against, anti-discrimination, Apartheid, city, councillor James Pasternak, funding, Israeli, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, parade, QuAIA, Queers, Rob Ford, Toronto, Town Crier
Case Ootes lone board member votes to sell 22 homes
City-owned housing provider to make millions
Money would be used to fix crumbling housing stock
(Written April 6 for Town Crier.)
Case Ootes explains his vote to sell 22 social housing properties. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier photo.
Case Ootes, the one man board at Toronto Community Housing Corporation, voted today to sell 22 single families homes in the portfolio that could net the corporation up to $15.7 million.
Some who came out to the meeting asked Ootes to defer the decision until a full board is in place this June. But Ootes said he’s acting on recommendations of the previous board to sell these homes including beachfront property on Hubbard Boulevard that are too costly to maintain.
A staff report this issue states the net profits from the sales should be used to tackle the backlog to fix up existing community housing across the city which Ootes pegs at close to $600 million.
“I made the decision based on the fact this corporation is facing serious financial problems,” he told the media after the meeting. “There are almost 2,000 vacant units in some form of disrepair. Money is needed to repair these units.”
But selling all 22 homes, which contain 29 separate units, won’t be a cakewalk.
Currently, 15 of the 29 units are occupied by tenants with most of them paying market rent. The market rent tenants can’t be kicked out by any new owner unless they or their families plan to live in the homes.
“Most buyers do want (houses) to be vacant so it will be more difficult to sell,” said Ootes. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Beach, board, Case Ootes, city, community, homes, housing, Hubbard, Kris Scheuer, properties, sell, TCHC, Toronto, Town Crier
City and province to make joint transit announcement
It’ll include Ford’s privately-funded Sheppard subway plan
Plus provincial cash for Eglinton and Scarborough LRTs
(Written for Town Crier March 30. March 31 UPDATE.)
Mayor Rob Ford's plan includes $4 billion in private sector cash to build a Sheppard subway. Town Crier file photo.
The city and province are both climbing aboard a new transportation deal that will be unveiled tomorrow morning.
TTC chair Karen Stintz confirmed on March 30 that the provincial government, its transportation agency Metrolinx and the city are moving full steam ahead with the plan outlined by Mayor Rob Ford.
“We have an agreement that will see major transit expansion in the City of Toronto,” Stintz told the media at an impromptu press conference this afternoon. “It is a real win for both the city and the province and I am really excited about the announcement tomorrow.”
That announcement to take place at the TTC’s Wilson yards at 9 a.m. on March 31 will be to confirm the province is still committed to its original investment of about $8.4 billion.
The provincial cash will be spent on a fully underground and expanded Eglinton LRT and to turn the Scarborough RT into an above ground light rail transit route.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged announcement, cash, city, Eglinton, Karen Stintz, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, plan, private, province, Scarborough, Sheppard, subway, Town Crier, Transit, transportation, TTC
Memo for city manager refers to core service review
Some city services could be discontinued altogether
City Manager Joseph Pennachetti.
The city is reviewing all city services with an eye on determining what are core services. what is mandated and what is discretionary, according to an internal memo obtained by 680 news.
Toronto’s city manager Joe Pennachetti’s March 21 memo to city staff outlines how the three-part service review will work and why it is needed.
“In the longer term, we have an operating funding shortfall, with the 2012 beginning operating pressure estimated at $784 million,” states his memo.
“Starting in April, we will conduct a three-part service review program to prepare for the 2012 budget process. The three parts will include: a core service review, service efficiency studies and a user fee review. The Core Service Review will study whatservices the city should be delivering and the Service Efficiency Studies will examine how city services are delivered,” the memo continues.
“These reviews are expected to generate significant efficiencies and cost savings,” states this memo.
These are just excerpts of the 3-page memo, which can be read entirely here.
This review goes beyond just looking at what services the city currently delivers. It will be looking at what services could be cut or possibly discontinued in terms of the city delivering them. Staff will report back in September with recommendations.
The March 21 memo outlines the goals of the review.
“Core Service Review. This element of the service review program will develop an inventory of all services, service levels and service standards. The review will:
• define which services are legislated, core and discretionary
• benchmark services and service levels against those in other jurisdictions
• rank services for potential reductions and discontinuation and identify the service, policy, human resource and financial impacts of recommended service changes.”
Pennachetti continues to write, “While the funding gap in the 2012 operating budget is significant, the goal of the Core Service Review is beyond cutting costs – it is to confirm the services and functions that are core to what the city does and to innovate in other areas. The outcomes will provide solid reasons for continued service delivery in core areas and for making any necessary changes in other areas.”
There will be much more to report on this when we see those reviews and what the recommendations are and whether it includes job cuts, service reductions and possible elimination of services delivered by the city/public sector.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged 2012, budget, city, cuts, elimination, jobs, Joe Pennachetti, Kris Scheuer, manager, memo, review, services, Toronto
City voted to remove housing board members
Interim director in place until new board appointed
Councillors question legality of decision
(Written and revised March 10 for Town Crier)
THC tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King were among board members removed by city. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Mayor Rob Ford got his wish. The four remaining members of the Toronto Community Housing’s board were removed last night after a midnight vote by city council.
It its place a single managing director has been appointed to take over the board’s duties.
It’s been confirmed former deputy mayor Case Ootes will fill that role until a new board is formed no later than mid-June.
Councillor Raymond Cho, who along with Councillor Maria Augimeri and tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King were removed from the community housing board, said during the debate he felt the mayor was telling him to get lost by asking him to resign from the board after he was just appointed in December.
Last week, the other two councillors appointed to the board after last year’s election, John Parker and Frances Nunziata, resigned at the mayor’s request.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged audit, board, Case Ootes, Catherine, city, community, council, councillor, Dan, decision, Doug Holyday, gone, housing, King, Kris Scheuer, Maria Augimeri, Mayor, remove, reports, Rob Ford, Shelley Carroll, Toronto, Town Crier, Wilkinson
(Updated story here.)
The last four remaining Toronto Community Housing board members were removed by the city in a vote 25-18 around midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
In the interim one person will act as the managing director and while his name remains confidential for now it’s been widely reported as former deputy mayor Case Ootes. To read the many motions and how councillors voted, click here.
I filed my story for the Town Crier at noon today detailing some of the next steps and concerns some councillors have over the process of removing a board that was not found to be implicated in any wrongdoing.
When that story is edited, I will post it on m blog.
The full story is done now and can be read here.
(For March 10 update click here.)
Mayor Ford shown on the big screen at city council tonight speaking about wanting the current TCH board removed. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Council has been debating for three plus hours now on Mayor Rob Ford’s request that the last four board members of Toronto Community Housing be removed tonight. He wants them replaced tonight by an interim managing director – Case Ootes.
Read the mayor’s letter to council on what he is seeking.
While there are a number of motions be city councillor being debated now (9pm), the main issue comes down to this: the mayor’s request the last four board members councillors Maria Augimeri and Raymind Cho and the two tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King be removed as they refuse to step down. Mayor Ford wants those four replaced by one person, former councillor Case Ootes, as the interim managing director.
And the main alternative being debated tonight is Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s motion that the four current reps stay on the board and the interim managing director be added but that he not be paid because as an ex councillor Ootes is already getting severance.
See all the councillors’ motions here.
The debate and media scrum didn’t end until almost 12:30 am Thurs March 10. Here’s the update on the results.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged board, city, community, council, debate, housing, Kris Scheuer, Kristyn Wong Tam, Mayor, Rob Ford, TCH, Toronto, vote
City cancels waiting list for free service
Everyone will have to pay for their own service
(Written March 3 for Town Crier.)
This home on Euclid Ave has a disconnected downspout already. The city's making it mandatory for everyone to do the same. Photo by Kris Scheuer.
The city has reneged on a promise to provide free downspout disconnections for almost 900 homeowners in North York.
In a budget-cutting move on Feb. 23, the city voted to end this free service as of March 1.
About 7,000 Toronto households on the waiting list will now have to pay out of their own pocket. What’s more, anyone who doesn’t disconnect their downspout by the mandated time may face court-imposed fines.
The city requires downspout disconnection to avoid sewer back-ups during heavy storms. This forces water run-off from a roof eavestrough to pour into a front yard rather than filter into a road sewer. The lawn absorption also takes strain off water treatment processing plants.
Back in 2007, the city voted to move from a voluntary program where the city offered the service for free to those who requested it to a mandatory one where residents pay.
In response, 37,600 people signed up before the cut-off date and since then, staff has been working their way through the applications.
It got whittled down to under 7,000 as of Jan. 28, but those on the list waited in vain.
Cancelling the free service now will save Toronto $673,000 in operating costs annually and $7.8 million total in capital costs over three years. On average it costs the city $1,000 per resident to provide this service including paying a contractor, contract procurement costs, inspection and administrative costs.
Here what your taxes pay for in Toronto
What city services are most vital to you? Image courtesy of City of Toronto.
The city passed its 2011 operating and capital billion totaling $13.326 billion.
What is Toronto getting for this money? Well click here for some insight into all the services the city provides for your tax dollars everything from public health, snow removal, parks and roads to police, social housing, libraries, fire services and clean water.
Next year, the city faces a $774 million shortfall that has to be made up by cutting services and raising TTC fares, property taxes and user fees just to balance the 2012 budget. So what services are most crucial to you and what can we cut and do without?