Toronto mayor too slow in garbage strike: Lastman
Mayor David Miller should have gone to court weeks ago to bar striking garbage workers from blocking residents at trash transfer stations, says former mayor Mel Lastman.
"I think the way we're treating the citizens of Toronto is disgraceful," he told CTV News Channel Monday evening.
Residents have been growing increasingly frustrated with lengthy wait times at Toronto waste transfer stations.
For example, the lineup at the Ingram transfer station Monday was about three hours long as only one car was allowed in at a time every 15 minutes. At another transfer site, people complained of five-hour wait times.
Once a driver is allowed into the site, they are only permitted to throw out three bags of garbage. Bylaw officers were on hand to ticket anyone found dumping their trash before their turn had arrived.
But Lastman said that's unacceptable in the eyes of the law -- something Miller should have taken into account when the strike began 22 days ago.
"The law says one minute and that's all they can do," Lastman said, referring to the amount of time picketers can legally delay residents.
"To have anybody wait in line for four hours and tell them they can only drop three bags of garbage is disgusting."
Labour lawyer Howard Levitt told CTV Toronto that strikers can only legally hold people long enough to hand out a leaflet and explain their position.
"(Mayor David Miller) can get an injunction to stop this, it is totally illegal," he said. "They are allowed to stop people for a second to give them information, that is what the law requires."
Miller agreed lengthy delays are against the law but the city has not yet sought an injunction against picketers holding people for hours at a time. He said he expects striking workers to be reasonable on the picket lines.
"We want to make sure things are convenient for the people of Toronto," he said.
Meanwhile, frustrated Toronto residents rallied outside Moss Park Monday evening to protest dumping in local parks.
Dozens of people were on hand outside the park's temporary dump site holding picket signs that read "Parks are for people" and "No dumping in our park."
Mounds of garbage are now sitting on a basketball court which was designated by the city to be a temporary dump site during the duration of the strike.
Many of the residents live around Moss Park in the Shuter and Queen Streets area. However, some of the protesters were also at a rally last week in front of a dumping site at Christie Pits park.
Strike talks progress
Miller continued to defend the city's position in the ongoing civic workers' strike, even as Torontonians enter their fourth week without a variety of city services, including daycare, community centre access and garbage pickup.
On Monday, Miller said he believes that striking city workers want to get back to work and that they approve of what the city has offered them.
The two unions submitted a "serious" counter-offer to the city over the weekend, as word spread that more than 500 workers applied to cross the picket line and return to work.
"I think city workers are proud of their work, they want to work and certainly they realize a very fair offer is on the table," the mayor told CTV News Channel in an interview from Toronto.
Miller said the two sides had made further progress in weekend negotiations.
The two striking unions -- Locals 79 and 416 -- represent some 24,000 indoor and outdoor workers who walked off the job on June 22. All of the union members had been without a contract since Dec. 31.
But the mayor also said the issue of sick days -- one of the most contentious issues between the two sides -- is still a concern for the city.
Currently, union workers get 18 sick days each year, with the ability to bank the ones they don't use. By cashing their banked sick days in at retirement, they can receive up to six months pay -- a practice the city wants to end.
Miller said the debt load that accompanies the sick days is a liability for Toronto, which hampers the city's ability to get loans.
"It's a huge liability on the city's books, it affects our credit rating, our ability to borrow, to build our new infrastructure ... and it's out of date."
With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney and Galit Solomon