Toronto council votes to privatize garbage pickup
Published Monday, October 24, 2011 9:10PM EDT
Toronto city councillors voted in favour of privatizing the collection of garbage from Yonge Street to west of the Humber River.
The recommendation passed council with a final vote of 26-16 on Monday evening.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday told reporters earlier on Monday that he believes the pro-privatization councillors have the votes to make the deal pass.
A recommendation to privatize garbage collection passed council 32-13 on May 17. At that time, city officials said savings could amount to $8 million per year -- at the cost of 300 jobs.
Last week, the city named GFL Environmental East Corp. as the lowest bidder for garbage collection in District 2.
The company's bid would save the city about $11.5 million per year, city officials estimate.
Critics of the GFL bid say it seems almost too good to be true, noting its bid is $3.5 million lower than the next lowest bid.
In an interview Monday with CTV News, Mark Ferguson -- president of CUPE Local 416, which represents outside workers -- said a forensic accountant's study of the city's estimates has buttressed his union's claim that the city is inflating the costs of city workers handling garbage removal.
"The costs associated with a private contractor are severely underestimated. It would be a bad deal for Torontonians," he said without elaborating.
Ferguson said the city should slow down the pace of the privatization push, saying some important questions are being raised about costs so far in the debate.
The former borough of Etobicoke privatized its garbage collection in the mid-1990s.
The former city of York contracted out its garbage collection but restored it as a public service in 2006, Ferguson said.
He said the union has identified a number of possible cost savings the administration could consider to reduce the cost of in-house garbage collection.
Two years ago, the city's unionized workforce went on strike for 39 days. One result was city parks being turned into temporary garbage dumps.
In his successful election campaign, Mayor Rob Ford made garbage collection privatization a key issue to prevent future strikes.
With files from CTV Toronto's Natalie Johnson