Contractors get access to Christie Pits dump site
Published Sunday, July 5, 2009 5:07PM EDT
The contentious temporary garbage dump at Christie Pits Park will close Sunday evening, the day after the city won an injunction to make sure pest control contractors will have access to the site.
The City of Toronto went to court on Saturday to ensure that contractors could get into the site, so they can remove standing water and spray pesticides on the growing trash pile.
The injunction will prevent both local protesters and union members from blocking the contractors from accessing the site.
The city says that picketers blocked public health inspectors from getting into the site on at least two occasions, though the striking unions have pledged to abide by the injunction.
Local residents and members of the Friends of Christie Pits Park have been opposing the use of the park as a temporary dump site since it opened last month.
The same group has also managed to gather nearly 700 signatures on a petition entitled "Parks are not Dumps!"
Friends of Christie Pits chair Monica Gupta said the temporary dump has created a "no-win" situation.
"Nobody wins if you spray pesticides in a park, but nobody wins if you have an infestation of rats," she said.
But city spokesperson Patricia Trott says officials have been keeping public health concerns in mind when applying pesticides and deodorizing chemicals to the site.
"The medical officer of health has said when measures are used properly there are no risks to public health," Trott said.
Christie Pits resident Boris Steipe told The Canadian Press that locals are "being held hostage for political expediency," as they watch thousands of bags of garbage piling up in the ice rink at their park.
"We are caught in the cross-fire between strong personalities and intransigent mega-lithic organizations," he said.
Christie Pits is one of more than 20 sites around the city that have been used as a temporary dumping site since the start of the civic workers strike, which saw 24,000 indoor and outdoor workers walk off the job on June 22.
The city closed another dumping site at York Mills Arena on July 3, which, like the Christie Pits site, was quickly filled by residential trash.
All of the remaining dumping sites are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day and residents can bring their garbage for free, as long as it is double-bagged.
Sunday marked the 14th day of the strike.
Aside from garbage services, Torontonians have also been going without child care and access to all city-run swimming pools, community and fitness centres, arenas, greenhouses, conservatories and golf courses, as well as other city services.
There has been no sign of an end to the strike in recent days, though Mayor David Miller has said he will not push for a legislated end to the labour disruption.
On Friday, the mayor wrote on his Twitter site that it is time for the unions to "say yes to an agreement that is affordable for the City."
The members of the two striking unions -- Locals 416 and 79 -- have not had a working contract since Dec. 31. They say the city has pushed for too many concessions.
With files from The Canadian Press