TORONTO -- Garbage collection east of Yonge Street would be suspended and recreation centres across the city would be shuttered in the event of a work stoppage involving the city’s outside workers that could begin as early as next week.

Earlier this month the city requested a no-board report in its negotiations with CUPE Local 416, the outside workers’ union, starting the countdown towards possible labour action.

As a result of that request, the city will be in a legal lockout position as of 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 27 and the union will likewise be in a legal strike position.

Though negotiations between the two sides are continuing, the city held a news conference on Thursday to warn residents about what services will be impacted in the event of a work stoppage.

Some of the highlights include:

  • All community and recreation centres, greenhouses and conservatories, pools, arenas, outdoor ice rinks, fitness centres and ski hills will be closed
  • All event permits for city parks, community centres, pools, indoor arenas, outdoor sports fields and picnic areas will be cancelled
  • All events in Nathan Phillips Square, David Pecaut Square, Albert Campbell Square, Mel Lastman Square and East York Civic Centre Square will be cancelled
  • Residential curbside garbage collection east of Yonge Street will be suspended while collection west of Yonge Street will continue
  • City litter bin waste collection will be cancelled, including in parks and public squares
  • Commercial garbage collection city-wide will be cancelled
  • All city council and committee meetings will be cancelled
  • Most libraries will remain open with the exception of four branches located in city facilities (Flemingdon Park, Todmorden Room, St. James Town and Port Union)
  • Waste collection, snow clearing and grounds maintenance in city parks will be cancelled

City Manager Chris Murray told reporters at Thursday’s news conference that he “remains hopeful” that a work stoppage can be averted and is “working around the clock” to get an agreement but he said that it is important to plan for the worst.

To that end, he said that management and non-union staff have been “preparing for redeployment to critical areas” in the event of a strike or lockout.

“Management and non-union staff represent about 15 per cent of the total workforce so clearly not all city services can be performed by managers and non-union staff,” he said. “But as a responsible employer and building on operational contingency plans of past bargaining years we are prepared to deliver critical services in the event of a labour disruption.”

City plans to open 11 temporary garbage drop-off sites

Residential garbage collection west of Yonge Street was privatized under then Mayor Rob Ford and will therefore continue in the event of a work stoppage, though the city says that green bins will not be picked up and organic materials will need to be placed in garbage bins.

In the east end, where garbage continues to be picked up by city workers, collection would be suspended, affecting an estimated 50,000 households every day.

The city says that for the first week of a potential work stoppage residents would be required to separate and store their waste. In the event of a prolonged work stoppage, the city says that it will set up 11 temporary drop-off sites which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and will be “cleared and cleaned routinely.”

“The important point here is to say we have a plan, we are ready to execute the plan but we are hoping that it is time that we spent that won’t be necessary because our goal, as I am sure it is with the union, is to reach an agreement,” Murray said.

CUPE says city is instigating labour disruption

CUPE 416 represents the city’s 5,000 outside workers, including snowplow operators, paramedics, garbage collectors, and park staff.

The union has been without a contract since Dec. 31.

While Murray said that the city has “tremendous respect” for its outside workers and is “incredibly serious” about the process of negotiating a new collective agreement, the union cast doubt on that in a statement issued following his news conference, blaming the city for “instigating” a work stoppage.

“How does the city manager stand up there and say the city respects its workers and looks out for the best interests of residents when they have been driving these talks toward a deadline and a dispute from the beginning?” CUPE Local 416 President Eddie Mariconda said in the statement. “They say that they want a contract that is affordable and sustainable. 416 members are already affordable and sustainable, and we deliver great services too.”

Mariconda said in his statement that the union “remains committed to bargaining around the clock in order to get a fair deal” but he said that he is “not encouraged” by what he heard from Murray and other city officials on Thursday.

He added that the city was the one who started the countdown towards a work stoppage in the first place and said that they will be to blame should one occur.

“I want to assure the residents of Toronto that if there is a stoppage it will be because of the city, not the union,” he said.

Murray said that while about 50 issues have been addressed at the negotiating table so far, there remains separation between the city and the union on a number of issues, include job security, wages, benefits and parental leave.