Rob Ford asks council to vote itself out of the plan for garbage privatization

Rob Ford asks council to vote itself out of the plan for garbage privatization

Under the clamshell at city hall (Image: Shaun Merritt)

Rob Ford’s plan to privatize garbage collection everywhere west of Yonge Street contains one little detail that is driving his opponents crazy: city council won’t get the final say on which firm gets the contract. Instead, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is asking council to delegate that decision to the Bid Committee. Predictably, the idea of voting themselves out of work isn’t sitting well with Ford’s opposition, and yet another the-very-fabric-of-our-democracy-is-at-stake slapfight is brewing.

The CBC elaborates:

Under normal city procedure, any contract that exceeds $20 million and seven years in length would go to council for approval. However, the report released Monday calls for the contract to instead be approved by a bid committee and not council, a move Denzil Minnan-Wong said will save the city $3.3 million in costs.

But some council members are decrying the move as undemocratic.

“I’m astounded that a $20-million contract isn’t going to come back to council, I’ve never seen that,” said Coun. Janet Davis. “This is another example of our mayor being completely anti-democratic and taking control away from council and handing it to an administrative committee.”

That Janet Davis opposes something Ford supports isn’t exactly breaking news, but Ford’s tactic is also alienating those who, at least in the beginning, were more of the reachable middle for the mayor; yesterday after the announcement, Councillor Josh Matlow tweeted: “With unilateral announcements on transit & garbage w/o allowing cllrs a vote, Mayor Ford has single-handidly decreased Council from 45 to 1… something wrong w/ this process.”

Privatization of garbage collection was one of Ford’s campaign commitments, and there’s nothing but a rump left on council willing to go to bat for the outside workers’ union, so some version of Ford’s plan is going to happen. Pushing councillors to vote themselves out of the process, however, might be going too far, even for Ford’s reliable allies. This vote, when it comes to council next month, is worth watching.

• West-end trash privatization plan draws critics [CBC]
• City of Toronto to privatize half of downtown garbage pickup by 2012 [Globe and Mail]
• Trash plan could save $8M [Toronto Star]
• Councillors booted from garbage briefing [Toronto Sun]