City council votes to privatize garbage collection
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 8:59PM EDT
A recommendation to privatize garbage collection in Toronto's west end handily passed a council vote Tuesday evening after a day-long debate over the plan's merits and cost savings.
Toronto city council voted 32-13 in favour of privatizing the service for 165,000 homes between Yonge Street and the Humber River to the west – a plan that staff suggests could save the city $8 million.
Mayor Rob Ford and his administration conceded a key point earlier in the day, stepping away from a recommendation to give city managers final say in awarding the seven-year contract.
Instead, council will have the chance to review the winning contract offer before it is approved.
"It is going to come back to council," Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, told reporters early Tuesday. "The public is going to be reassured that this process is completely open and transparent and that all the rules are followed, and that we will have the best bid awarded."
Minnan-Wong says the change will not result in any service cuts or changes to the city's environmental initiatives.
The city has said the plan to privatize the region would cut about 300 jobs, most of them temporary positions, and save about $8 million a year.
However, many have suggested the numbers are faulty and that the plan will not save any money,
"I don't think there is anyone left in the City of Toronto, other than Mayor Ford, who believes the $8 million number," Coun. Gord Perks told CTV Toronto. "It has clearly been blown out of the water here today. Nobody takes that number seriously."
CUPE local 416 claims the plan will cost more, put people out of work and will harm the city's blue and green bin programs.
Two separate reports -- one by the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and another commissioned by CUPE -- suggested the city's numbers don't add up.
An Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll released Monday showed that 61 per cent of Torontonians surveyed on the issue agreed that collection should be privatized, while 30 per cent disagreed.
The plan to privatize garbage was a key issue in Ford's election campaign, during which he attacked former mayor David Miller's handling of a 2009 garbage strike.
On Tuesday, Ford suggested councillors had the choice to vote to support "big spending" or to put an end to Toronto's old "tax-and-spend" mindset.
"I think people said ‘enough is enough' after they endured a 40-day garbage strike last year," Ford told council during Tuesday's debate. "It hurt our city, it hurt tourism and it hurt our livelihood. We cannot have any more garbage strikes in this city."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Alicia Markson