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Video of smoking garbage truck draws fire from Toronto councillor


A privately owned garbage truck caught on video belching black smoke has drawn condemnation from a Toronto councillor and sparked debate about the future of the city’s curbside collection contract.

Councillor James Pasternak says the two-minute video, which shows a truck with a GFL logo making the rounds at Wilson and Keele barely visible at times through its own exhaust, is unacceptable.

“You can’t have a vehicle out on the road smoking like that,” Pasternak told CTV News. “We expect all of our subcontractors, especially in solid waste, to have safe, well-maintained vehicles on the road.”

In the video, shot in mid-February by a concerned citizen who provided it to CTV News, the driver is confronted and asked, “Why don’t you fix your truck?” The driver appears to acknowledge there is an issue, but continues driving.

A privately owned garbage truck was caught on video with an abundance of black smoke coming from its exhaust on March 28, 2024, drawing the attention, and commotion, of a local Toronto councillor. (Jon Woodward / CTV News)

GFL told CTV News it typically would fix trucks in that situation quickly, and a city spokesperson confirmed that the province’s Ministry of Transportation contacted GFL and was presented with documentation that it was fixed.

“The contract with the City stipulates that all vehicles supplied by the contractor must comply with the provincial Motor Vehicle Safety Act,” a city spokesperson said.

The city’s outside workers union likened the smoking truck to a smoking gun, saying that it’s evidence the contract with GFL shouldn’t renewed when it expires in 2026.

“The video and images released today show that our environment will continue to be harmed by relying on profit focused private sector operators,” said Toronto Civic Employees Union Local 416 in a statement.

Toronto is a city divided when it comes to trash pickup. Bins east of Yonge St. are typically picked up by city crews. West of Yonge St., trash is generally picked up by GFL.

Some councillors have pushed for that GFL contract to be assumed by city workers.

“In the long run, I think we should look at bringing it back in-house because our city workers basically can do the job just as well or better than the private sector, and you have more control,’ said Councillor Mike Colle on Wednesday.

Pasternak said it may be unfair to judge a whole company on one belching truck.

“I get very few complaints about our garbage pickup,” he said. “We’re in the area east of Yonge, with GFL. Performance seems to be good. We can’t keep jumping back and forth from insource to outsource,” he said. Top Stories

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