A few things about council’s decision to have city workers replace the private sector to collect curbside garbage in the former City of York:
1. While the change will reportedly save the city $4.4 million, most reports (except this one) neglected to mention that the city will have to buy its way out of its existing private sector agreements. No one knows what that will cost.
2. Also unreported: Councillor Case Ootes (Ward 29 – Toronto Danforth) blew a gasket during the debate, calling the city staff recommendations “politically motivated.” He apologized at the Mayor’s urging, but not after he’d shouted the phrase over and over again. When it was all over, Glenn de Baeremaker (Ward 38 – Scarborough Centre), who was tasked with shepherding the change through council, said his opponents were “blinded by ideology.” Your mama. No, your mama.
3. Righty Councillor Karen Stintz (Ward 16 – Eglinton Lawrence) cleverly tried to pierce the ideological divide with a motion essentially requiring the city to wait until the private-sector contracts had run their course in 2008. After all, at no time did anyone complain that the private contractors in York were doing a poor job, nor was it suggested that they were gouging the city, so it’s hardly fair to penalize them. So what’s the rush? And who can be against living up to your agreement? Apparently this council can.
4. I have always lived in areas of the city with unionized city workers collecting the trash. Two summers ago, when I lived in a different neighbourhood, my street had a serious problem with curbside trash collection. Lots of stuff wasn’t getting picked up, while empty bins and trash cans were being tossed on the wrong side of the street or left in the middle of the road. Then, one day, the problems stopped and everything was perfect. The change was so sudden, I thought I’d imagined the whole thing. Until yesterday, when I chatted with another reporter who lived in that neighbourhood and experienced the same thing. I have always wondered what prompted the abrupt change to good service. Did the city fire a couple of bad apples? Was it some kind of covert job action to teach the city a lesson? Did the union clean up their act, knowing they had to be on their best behaviour if they wanted to get the York and Etobicoke contracts back? I wonder still.