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 Ford’s more costly Eglinton underground LRT
Eglinton LRT is a go but no cash left for Finch, Sheppard
(Column written for Town Crier April 4)
Get ready, midtown, to face the envy and scorn of the rest of Toronto.
A new, underground version for a 25 km Eglinton LRT is moving ahead, thanks to a joint announcement by the province and the city.
Good news, right? Yes, except that the previous plan included $8 billion for surface LRT routes along Finch, Sheppard and Eglinton, and converting the Scarborough RT into light rail transit lines. Then-incoming mayor Rob Ford pronounced that plan dead on Dec. 1.
Mayor Ford wanted the Eglinton line fully buried, so that it won’t interfere with traffic. That’ll be achieved except for a small elevated portion as it approaches Kennedy subway station. Burying the entire rapid streetcar line will increase the cost of the Eglinton project by at least $2 billion.
The result is the $8.4 billion the province had set aside for four will now be entirely eaten up by two: Eglinton and Scarborough. As a result, the new plan cancels LRTs on Sheppard and Finch.
But here’s the kicker: The city will be on the hook to pay back $49 million in costs already incurred for the Sheppard and Finch routes to provincial agency Metrolinx. That is a lot of money down the drain for a decision by a mayor who claims to value respect for taxpayers.
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged $8, billion, cancelled, Eglinton, Finch, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, Metrolinx, Sheppard, Toronto, Town Crier, Transit, TTC
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
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
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged community, garbage, housing, Kris Scheuer, LRT, Mayor Rob Ford, privatize, Sheppard, subway, Toronto, Town Crier, Transit
Toronto Community Housing board still in place, for now
City Council to discuss TCH board at special meeting Wed
(Written for Town Crier March eighth. Update here.)
Councillor Doug Ford wants remaining board members to step down. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
The remaining members of Toronto Community Housing’s embattled board are staying put despite Mayor Rob Ford’s calls for their resignations.
The issue was expected to be the heated topic today at city hall, but while politicians voted unanimously to move the issue to the top of the agenda, the mayor failed to get the votes needed to debate it without having the issue sent to Executive Committee first.
The controversy stems from scathing reports from the city’s auditor general which said the housing corp. could have saved between $4-10 million if there was increased competition for contracts and shone the spotlight on inappropriate staff expenses ranging from planning meetings at spas to lavish Christmas parties. Meanwhile the city-owned housing corp. has a state of good repair backlog of over $300 million.
While the auditor didn’t call for a clean house of the current board the mayor has. The board chair David Mitchell plus eight other members resigned at the mayor’s request but councillors Maria Augimeri and Raymond Cho and tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King remain.
“Has (council) malfeasance on our part?” King asked. “Has the auditor general mentioned cause for our removal? If not, then we have a legitimate right to be here. Calling for our removal because they don’t like certain people is not what I call democratic.”
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Adam Vaughan, audit, board, community, council, Dan King, Doug Ford, fired, housing, Kris Scheuer, Maria Augimeri, Mayor Rob Ford, Raymond Cho, TCH, Toronto, Town Crier
City Council gives nod to mayor’s picks for choice roles
Chairs of important committees and Ford’s inner team chosen
Left, downtown and women mostly shut out
(Written for Town Crier Dec. eight)
Mayor Rob Ford. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier file image.
Mayor Rob Ford got a key win today at city hall as the councillors he’s hand-picked for key committees were approved by council.
But the 39-6 decision to endorse the slate with some minor amendments did not come easily.
Some complained none of the 12 councillors on Toronto-East York community council were appointed to serve on key committees including the executive, TTC, budget, police services board or Toronto Community Housing.
The make-up of the mayor’s 13 member Executive, for example, includes five Scarborough reps, three from North York, three from Etobicoke and two from York. Of the nine councillors on the TTC, none represent downtown.
Several politicians argued that these committees and other boards should include not just different ideologies but a geographical representation from all corners of the city.
“There are practical issues about how to make the city functional that require input from people (politicians) from different corners of the city,” Councillor Adam Vaughan told the media this afternoon. “Because different corners of the city are built differently.
“There is no ideological argument about which time of day you pick garbage, but there are practical reasons why you pick it up in Kensington (Market) and not at a certain time in Scarborough,” he added. “If you don’t have a cross section of people weighing in on city wide issues you lose that intelligence.” Continue reading
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged councillor Adam Vaughan, Councillor Janet Davis, councillors, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Doug Holyday, executive, Jaye Robinson, key, Kris Scheuer, left, Mayor Rob Ford, Norm Kelly, Peter Milczyn, roles, Town Crier, TTC
Don Cherry introduces Mayor Rob Ford at city council
Hockey commentator’s racy comments overpower event
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 7)
L-R: Hockey commentator Don Cherry shakes Mayor Ford's hand at inaugural council session Dec. 7. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Hockey commentator Don Cherry’s message was almost as colourful as his jacket as he introduced his friend Mayor Rob Ford in a ceremonial inauguration at city hall this afternoon.
Cherry stole the show with comments about the “left-wing pinkos” on council and in the media.
“I wore pink today for all the pinkos out there,” said Cherry, who couldn’t be missed in his fuchsia jacket.
He further chided the “the left-pinko media” who he says “ripped him to shreds” when it was announced he would introduce Ford at the ceremony.
The controversial character said he supports Ford who he describes as honest and truthful.
“He is like (new MP) Julian Fantino what you see is what you get.”
That feeling is mutual as Ford commented to reporters on Cherry’s remarks after the event.
“What you see is what you get. That’s Don Cherry,” Ford said.