Strike leaves festivals scrambling for trash services
Toronto's 13-day-old civic workers' strike continued to be measured by the amount of garbage piling up at temporary dump sites Saturday, as residents lined up to throw out their trash for a second straight weekend. And street festival organizers were forced to make plans to get rid of their garbage without the help of city workers.
The city opened 19 temporary dump sites on June 25, adding two more temporary sites to the list on Friday afternoon at Centennial Arena and another at Wilket Creek / Sunnybrook Park.
On Saturday, Wilket Creek residents were split on having a temporary dump site in the area. Some told CTV Toronto that they were appalled to see a dump in their backyard, others said it was a necessary arrangement.
The extra sites were needed after the city chose to close two others, at the York Mills arena and at Christie Pits Park, where Toronto's chief medical officer of health had recently ordered residents to co-operate with pest control efforts at the site.
The York Mills site closed on July 3, and the Christie Pits site is slated to close Sunday.
The Christie Pits site had long been a controversial choice with local residents opposing its use since the day it opened -- and in some cases, blocking other residents from dropping off their trash there.
On Saturday, the city sought a court injunction to stop protesters from blocking private pesticide contractors from accessing the Christie Pits site.
Festivals seek private pick-up services
And on city streets, as many as 500,000 people were expected to attend the Taste of Lawrence and Corso Italia festivals on the weekend, all producing garbage that city workers will not be cleaning up.
Both festivals have had to hire private contractors to take care of the trash, a concession that is far from cheap -- according to the Wexford Heights BIA, they have had to budget $15,000 for private garbage pickup at the Taste of Lawrence.
"It is a little bit challenging for us because we had to go to the Plan B and go and get, try to call private contractors at the last moment," Wexford Heights BIA president Hussein Ayoub said Friday.
Corso Italia BIA chair Connie Lamanna said the city should be stepping up to help out local businesses.
"We can't do it all and unfortunately the city is not coming through and helping the small businesses," Lamanna told CTV Toronto on Friday.
On Saturday, private contractors were roving around the Corso Italia festival grounds, keeping the streets as clean as possible.
Other services affected
But it's not only garbage services that city residents and festival organizers have been going without during the strike.
With 24,000 indoor and outdoor workers from two separate civic unions -- Locals 416 and 79 -- on strike, a number of city services are unavailable including child care and access to all city-run swimming pools, community and fitness centres, arenas, greenhouses, conservatories and golf courses.
Contracts for both unions expired on Dec. 31. But union members did not go on strike until June 22.
On Friday, Mayor David Miller told the unions that "enough is enough" and that Torontonians, particularly young people, are being inconvenienced and denied "the opportunity to use public services."
But the mayor has said that he will not seek back-to-work legislation in order to force an end to the strike.
If the strike continues through the weekend, Monday will mark the start of the third week of the work stoppage.
With reports from CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman and James MacDonald