Tag Archives: garbage

Privatizing Toronto’s trash collection

City moves closer to contracting out garbage service
Kris Scheuer
(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).

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Rob Ford’s privatization plans

New mayor has shown a push to privatize city services
(Column written Mar 4 for Town Crier.)

Mayor Rob Ford has been in office for more than 100 days now and one trend that’s emerging quite vividly is his preference for privatization and partnering with the private sector.
Exhibit A: the mayor campaigned on contracting out garbage in an effort to save money and avoid strikes.
On Feb. 7, the city announced it had given CUPE Local 416 a 90-day notice that it plans to privatize all recycling collection in city parks, half of the city’s litter collection, plus garbage pickup in 165,000 residential homes west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border.
City staff will report back on the issue in April and go to council for a vote in May.
So far, the city estimates it can save $8 million if this move succeeds. Interestingly, right-wing think tank C.D. Howe Institute and U of T released a report before the municipal election outlining how Toronto could save $49 million by privatizing garbage citywide. The Ontario Waste Management Association, made up mainly of reps from private sector waste haulers, gave $50,000 toward that study.
I’d like to see the upcoming city staff report explain potential savings in further detail, given some full-time city workers have a “jobs for life” provision in their contract that guarantees them city work if their positions are contracted out. And while the mayor is moving in this direction to avoid strikes, like the 39-day episode in the summer of 2009, there’s no guarantee a private sector contract will mean no strikes. Continue reading

City’s garbage privatization plan

City informs union of intent to contract out trash removal
Council to debate privatizing Toronto’s garbage collection
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Feb. 7)

Mayor Rob Ford announces a plan to privatize more of the city's garbage collection. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.

Mayor Rob Ford is poised to deliver on another election promise, this time to privatize garbage collection.
“As you know I campaigned on contracting out garbage,” Ford said at a city hall press conference today. “Today is the first step in that procedure. We notified the union at 11 am that we will discuss contracting out in May.”
Ford added that he was taking this step to prevent the city suffering through another garbage strike as well as to save money and reduce the size of government.
“That’s what people elected us to do and that’s exactly what we will deliver on,” he said.
The city is looking to contract out three aspects of the current public service: daytime, residential curb-side collection west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border for about 165,000 homes (garbage collection in Etobicoke is already contracted out); collection of litter and recycling in all city parks  and an additional 25 percent of the city’s litter vacuum operations to bring it up to 50 percent privatization.

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Toronto eyes contracting out garbage

Mayor Ford plans to privatize some waste collection
Some recycling and litter contracts will be privatized as well
Kris Scheuer
(Click to read updated story.)

Mayor Ford is looking to contract out some garbage contracts and avoid scenes like this from the summer 2009 garbage strike. Town Crier file photo.

The city has issued a notice it plans to start looking at contracting out garbage, litter and recycling in Toronto. A press conference a 12:30 today will provide more details and I will report back (click here to read that update.)
Here’s the full press release. Continue reading

Lower garbage fees for condos

City aims to increase diversion rate in multi-res buildings
Kris Scheuer
(Written July 29 for Town Crier.)

City aims to get more apartment and condo dwellers diverting waste from landfill. Photo by Karolyn Coorsh/Town Crier.

In an attempt to reverse the flow of apartments turning to private garbage collection, the city has introduced a new waste collection fee for multi-residential buildings.
The new fee system, which kicked in July 1, is supposed to be less complex and cheaper for residential buildings than the old city system that started two years ago.
Since July 1, 2008 when the city launched a waste collection fee based on volume, 375 apartment and condos have chosen to go off the public system and sign up with the private sector instead.

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What to recycle, trash in Toronto

City launching new online tool to answer questions
Type in your item and find out what goes in blue bin, organics and garbage
By Kris Scheuer

Blue BinGarbage BinGreen Bin

I write about garbage, recycling and organics. A lot.
I have dug through rotting trash for stories to find out why people in Toronto still put so much garbage at the curb. And I am still confused at times about what can be recycled and what has to be trashed.
To make the whole mess simpler, the city has launched a new web search tool. See it for yourself.
Let’s pick five items as examples: cooking oil, human hair, TV, dental floss and plastic bags. Continue reading

Garbage fee hike cancelled

Solid waste budget gets additional cash to avoid trash rate hike
Millions saved during summer strike diverted to garbage department
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Oct. 28 for Town Crier.)

Call it the garbage fee hike that never was.
Toronto city council couldn’t stomach implementing a proposed two percent increase for trash fees so soon after a strike that saw garbage collection suspended for 39 days.
The fee would generate an additional $4.8 million for the solid waste management department to implement additional waste diversion programs such as additional reuse centres for old mattresses and furniture to be recycled or sold rather than tossed in landfill. The proposed fee hike would have meant an additional $4-8 per bin depending on the size.
But instead of raising garbage rates, the city approved using $4.8 million out of the $36.1 million “saved” during this summer’s strike for the garbage department’s 2010 budget to hold the line on fees. Continue reading

Strike savings used to avoid garbage hike

City to add millions to garbage budget to avoid fee hike
Proposal was to raise rates by two percent in 2010
By Kris Scheuer
(Oct. 29 update here.)

City council voted today to apply $4.8 million from money saved during this summer’s strike towards the garbage department’s budget.
While the city saved money in some departments during the 39-day labour dispute, in other areas it cost them more in overtime pay and legal costs.
Overall, the city came out $36.1 million ahead. Today city politicians debated what to do with that money: issue rebates, put it into general revenue or use part of it to off set proposed garbage fee hikes.
In the end, council voted 22-19 to apply nearly $5 million to Toronto’s garbage department budget to avoid a proposed two percent hike in rates for 2010.
The motion put forth by Councillor Karen Stintz passed after hours of debate.
For more on this story, please click here for update.

So what do you think? Was this the right use of $4.8 million?

Strike saved city 33 million

How should city use the savings?
What’s your wish list: rebates or spend on services?

(Written Oct. 6 for Town Crier. Oct. 26 UPDATE.)

You remember the 39-day strike this summer? At the time I wrote this, city figures stated the government saved $33.1 million during the labour unrest.
So what should be done with this money?
The main three options for the city are to issue rebate cheques to residents, use it for specific programs or fold the windfall into general revenues. My preference is to use some of the money to bring down a planned garbage rate hike and if that’s not possible then instead put the millions towards balancing the 2010 budget. But I’d want to know how the money was specifically spent. Continue reading

City going green with organic bins

Foul odours turn off some
Toronto implements green bins for residents
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 18/2004 for Town Crier.)
This is a look back at to an article I wrote five years ago as the city now grapples with how to roll out organic waste collection for apartment dwellers…

Councillor Jane Pitfield and Geoff Rathbone, the director of policy and planning for Toronto’s works department, introduce the green bin.

You couldn’t have helped noticing a big, 45-litre green bin delivered to your door recently, in preparation for the city’s new organic garbage collection program starting in the former Toronto, York and East York the week of Oct. 18/04.
Inside the bin are two things: an info sheet telling you what can and can’t go into the green bin and a small beige indoor container for kitchen scraps, which can then be dumped into the outdoor bin. Continue reading