Garbage pickup resumes as some steamed over dumps
For the first time since late June, garbage trucks rolled down the alleys and streets of Toronto to pick up trash from the homes of strike-weary residents.
Garbage wasn't the only service back Tuesday morning.
The 57 city-run child care centres also opened for business for the first time since the end of the 39-day labour dispute. The city said anyone who paid fees in advance will see an adjustment to their account if a refund is owed.
Parents told CTV Toronto that the absence of child-care services has been difficult for them and their children.
Workers are getting the city's swimming pools ready to open, something that will take start taking place on Thursday for outdoor pools. Splash pads opened Tuesday.
Community centres opened for casual use, such as fitness centres and drop-in programs. Registration will begin Wednesday for programs, camps and swim classes, with some of those programs resuming as early as Saturday.
For residents in Campbell Park, one of more than two dozen that hosted temporary garbage dumps, the refuse might be gone but the stench lingers.
Street sweepers were out scrubbing down the hockey rink near Lansdowne Avenue and Dupont Street, but for babysitter Martha Torres, the park wasn't yet ready to be enjoyed.
"I don't think this smell's every going to go away," Andrew Bardyn said. "This stuff sat here and sat here and sat here and baked for a month, almost. They're almost done cleaning and it still stinks."
Virginia Novak said she's disappointed and "totally disgusted" with the cleanup job so far.
"They told us this park would be clean, if not cleaner, than it was before," she said.
City officials say they will continue the work until the park has been restored, but Novak said area residents are considering some type of legal action to ensure the job gets done right.
But first, they will be sending letters to the various administrative bodies making their disappointment known, she said.
Other people said on Tuesday morning they were glad the 39-day labour dispute is finally over, but some expressed concern over the anger that apparently remains and the compromises that were made to reach a negotiated settlement.
Coun. Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre) told CTV Toronto that he thought Mayor David Miller caved to the unions in the settlement deal.
"Maybe the mayor just doesn't have the tools and the skill set to handle a city of this magnitude," said the long-time opponents of Miller.
But CTV Toronto's John Musselman said when he asked Thompson if he would be willing to run against Miller in next year's civic election, "he was non-committal."
Thompson was one of 17 councillors who voted against the deal on Friday. Twenty-one, including Miller, supported the deal. Six councillors were absent.
That deal saw wage increases totalling six per cent over three years, which is comparable to other public-sector settlement reached in Ontario in recent weeks.
The most contentious issue was the sick-day policy.
City workers had a long-term provision granting them 18 sick days per year. Unused sick days could be banked and cashed in for up to six months pay upon retirement.
Under the new deal, new hires won't be able to bank sick days. People with more than 10 years service can keep that option or accept a buyout and move to a short-term disability plan. Those with fewer than 10 years of service will get 18 sick days per year but won't be able to continue banking them. There will be an optional buyout.
Some political allies of Miller defended the mayor's record.
"There are a lot of councillors who say, 'People are mad; maybe I can score some points'. That's not good governance," said Coun. Gordon Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park).
"Strikes are tough issues. As I said, mayors tend to wear them. But in year's time, it will be 'what kind of city do you want to build?'" added Coun. Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina).
Miller seemed relaxed on Tuesday, saying: "I'm accountable to Torontonians. I'm happy to put myself out here. It's a privilege every single day. Those councillors (who attack the settlement) are going to be accountable at the same time."
The mayor said he will seek a third term in the next municipal election scheduled for November 2008.
With a report from CTV Toronto's John Musselman and Dana Levenson