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Update: Rob Ford battles council on privatizing trash pick up - National Post

May 17, 2011
Natalie Alcoba
National Post

Garbage collector Rene Acosta throws garbage into the back of a garbage truck in the Ossington and Bloor area of Toronto. Tyler Anderson/National Post files

Mayor Rob Ford ratcheted up the rhetoric while conceding some ground, as he kicked off a day long debate Tuesday on whether the city should contract out garbage pick up west of Yonge Street.

“We’re going to divide ourselves up into two groups. This is going to be very simple for the taxpayers to see. You’re going to have one side of council that is going to support high taxes, big spending, out of control union contracts,” said Mr. Ford to jeers from an audience that was packed with union workers.

“We’re going to have the other side of council that is going to demonstrate restraint in spending … respect for taxpayers money, that want to bring accountability to City Hall, that are sick and tired of the tax and spend socialists.”

Council is considering whether to issue a request for quotations for private haulers to pick up residential trash west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border, plus litter pick up in parks and more sidewalk vacuuming. The proposal is expected to save the city $8-million a year, and would result in about 300 “temporary” workers losing their jobs.

“I hope, for the taxpayers sake, that we contract out garbage everything west of Yonge Street by the end of today,” said Mayor Ford, who was clearly in a sparring mood, beckoning with his hands for rivals to pepper him with questions, after he dismissed an inaudible comment from Councillor Shelley Carroll. “I just look at where it’s coming from and I understand,” said Mr. Ford.

Despite the fighting words, his administration has backed off a contentious proposal to have city staff sign off on the winning bid, instead of city council.

Staff had argued that sending the matter back to council would delay the process by six months and shave $3-million off savings, but councillors had raised concerns about the expedited process.

If council agrees to issue a request for quotations, city staff will write the terms of the contract, to which private haulers will submit bids. City council will then award the winning bid, likely by the end of next year, said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who chairs the public works and infrastructure committee. He said council will not be voting on the details of the contract. If all goes according to plan, private haulers will start picking up trash west of Yonge in early 2013.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance continued to raise the alarm about the process. “A quarter billion contract is going to be awarded without council looking at it before it gets signed off. It’s a bizarre way to run a city,” said Franz Hartmann, executive director of TEA. A recent survey by Ipsos Reid found that 61% of respondents are in favour of contracting out garbage west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border, versus 30% who are against it. In Etobicoke, where garbage has been picked up privately since the mid nineties, 75% of respondents were in favour of the plan.

As originally published here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/05/17/council-should-have-final-say-on-trash-privatization-contract-ford/

2011-05-17 Update_Rob Ford battles council on privatizing trash pick up _National Post_.pdf130.39 KB