Is the city throwing vacuum waste into the trash?

If you read the stories last week about the Toronto city staff report on vacuum waste, you might have gotten the impression that the idea had been given the green light in the West Don Lands, where Waterfront Toronto would like to proceed with it. Here’s how Geoff Rathbone, the city’s general manager of solid waste, put it to the National Post: “Should they wish to proceed with that, it’s really their decision, not ours…. If something like that was built, we could pick up the material at the end of the pipe. So the decision would be Waterfront Toronto’s or the developer’s.”

Dunno about that. The report to the executive committee tells a different story, stating, among other things, that the vacuum system’s “piped infrastructure must be installed in City right-of-ways. City approval of the design and location of the piped infrastructure as well as the central collection terminal will be required.”

The report concludes thusly: “Waterfront Toronto has not presented an implementation model the City can support, one where the City is not the owner/operator after the pilot project is completed.” In other words, the decision is theirs, but we retain veto power, and given the current proposal we would exercise it.

Where does council stand on the issue? Who knows? The staff report was for information purposes only. Vacuum waste is not slated to be the subject of a council vote. Perhaps it ought to be.


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