500 homes missed on first day of private garbage collection
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 7:46AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 7, 2012 10:50PM EDT
Private trash collection has officially begun in the city’s west end, but garbage was not picked up at about 500 homes Tuesday, according to a city spokesperson.
The swath of 165,000 Toronto homes between Yonge Street and the Humber River is now serviced by Green for Life after a seven-year contract came into effect Tuesday morning.
However, the city said late Tuesday that GFL will have to return to some streets Wednesday morning to finish the job. Some residents have called the 311 service to complain about late or missed garbage pickup.
Residents had been warned to expect delays during the first week of service, as the company adapts to the new job.
Earlier Tuesday, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, said he was excited about the change, which will save about $100 million over the course of the contract.
“Our objective now is to get this right,” Minnan-Wong said at a news conference. “We are going to focus hard … to make sure that we ensure there is customer service excellence.”
Minnan-Wong said efficient private trash collection could mean more services would be privatized in the future, such as city hall’s custodial staff – a bid that was blocked by council earlier this year.
“The best thing we can do right now is make the case. We’ve made the financial case, and some people say it couldn’t be done. Some people still say it can’t be done. There are others that believe, and would hope that, this will fail.
“We’ve made the financial case and now have to prove to residency of Toronto we can make this happen.”
Privatized garbage was one of Mayor Rob Ford’s key campaign promises and city officials expect the switch will save more than $11 million in each year of service.
Ford, who was absent from the press conference Tuesday morning due to feeling “under the weather,” expressed his excitement in a released statement.
"This is a great day for the City of Toronto," he said.
CUPE Local 416 President Mark Ferguson said that the union does not accept the city’s numbers, claiming they have “grossly exaggerated the amount of savings.” He said leaving garbage collection in the hands of unions working for the city is more cost-effective.
He told a Tuesday press conference that the union was concerned the city will attempt to privatize more services in the near future.
“We are concerned about that. We know of a number of examples where the city would like to contract out services. We are doing everything that we can to keep those critical services in house,” he said.
“Direct accountability to taxpayers is the preferred method. We hope the administration both currently and in the future will see the wisdom in keeping those services in house.”
GFL President Patrick Dovigi said he is aware of the concerns some residents have with private collection, but is confident Green for Life can win them over with their customer service.
“For us, image is everything, and making sure our drivers do the proper thing for the residents. This is a big contract for us and a big contract for the city, and a very important contract for the councillors.
“We want to prove everybody wrong, and prove that the city has done the right thing, as other municipalities across Canada have done.”
Jim Harnum, Toronto’s general manager of solid waste, said Tuesday garbage pickup schedules will not change. Service trucks will begin at 7 a.m. and be off the street by 5 p.m. each day.
Green for Life won the contract through a bidding process in October, promising to save the city money while offering service levels as good as or better than city crews.
Green for Life is based out of Pickering, Ont., and operates in other communities in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. The company already provides garbage collection service in Etobicoke.
With a file from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson