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A Trash Bin Quandary

Photo by Steve Kupferman/Torontoist.

Over the past seventeen days we’ve seen Toronto’s poor, untended trash bins in some pretty appalling states. So why is this one, located across the road from Main Street Station, so spotless?
Reader and area resident Brandy Harwood wrote to Torontoist, on Tuesday:

This morning as I walked to Main Station there was one of those brand new garbage bins across the street from it. There wasn’t one there last night when I went home! Overnight they bolted it in and saran wrapped it with the little sign asking us not to litter.
I find it odd that they are installing new bins during the strike…it’s a bit like taunting us! I’ll bet that tonight when I walk home it will be full already.

The brand-new garbage bin is one of the new receptacles being installed citywide as part of Toronto’s coordinated street furniture program. We first spotted them on sidewalks in March.
The coordinated street-furniture program, which the city operates in conjunction with Astral Media, a media and advertising company (to whom advertising rights on the new furniture belong), is also responsible for the city’s new bus shelters, info kiosks, multi-publication structures, posting columns, benches, and bike posts. Astral and the city will one day even provide us with a fleet of coin-operated public washrooms, which we can only hope will be equipped to survive future labour disruptions without…erm…overflow.
We visited the new bin in front of Main Street Station on Tuesday night and can confirm that there is not a fleck of grime on it anywhere, nor any large pieces of trash, inside or out. There’s even a second bin a few metres away at the corner of Main Street and Danforth Avenue that also appears brand new.
The city can’t be reached for comment because of the ongoing strike. We conducted an informal poll of two older men who happened to be walking by; one young woman who ran away in fright as soon as we finished speaking to her; one guy in a hockey jersey, smoking a cigarette; another guy who overheard us talking to hockey jersey guy; the vendor at the convenience stand inside Main Street Station; and two twenty-something Jehovah’s Witnesses who, in a lifetime first, were actually more embarrassed for us than we were for them at the close of our conversation—and still produced no confirmation of the bin’s alleged newness. Nobody had noticed a thing. All we know for sure now is that “hey, can I ask you about that trash bin over there” is a really horrible ice-breaker.
Still, we have to agree that there is something pretty ironic about the prospect of a shiny, new trash receptacle popping up all mushroom-like in the night, only to have a big look-but-don’t-touch sign tied to it.
So we ask: Have any coordinated street-furniture program trash bins appeared in your neighborhood since the strike began?


  • http://undefined Chester Pape

    What’s the great mystery, these things have always been installed by Astral or rather their contractors, not by unionized city employees. All kinds of this kind of contracted stuff has been continuing with varying levels of city supervision from managers. This morning on CP24 they had some “citizen journalism” crud where someone was complaining because one of the old trash containers was being removed.
    In a related note I witnessed two city managers attempting to fill a pothole, instead of using a proper roller or tamper they were using their city pickup truck to try to pack down the patch…

  • http://undefined Caligula Jones

    There are two brand new ones at Woodbine and Danforth as well. If you stand behind the one on the south side of Danforth, you can see it, and the garbage-filled one on Woodbine kitty corner to it. If I have my camera on the weekend I’ll see if I can get a shot.
    And speaking of the one one Woodbine by the subway: are people that stupidlazy that they will try to stuff something into an overflowing bin (as I saw a woman do this week), and then walk into the subway PAST AT LEAST TWO GARBAGE BINS THAT ARE BEING EMPTIED REGULARLY. Ahem. Sorry, but I just don’t get it…

  • http://undefined paigesix

    who is emptying the bins in Trinity Bellwoods and other parks? they’re all classic square, wire trash cans… but have been consistently maintained since the strike started. is this not a city thing?

  • http://undefined ked

    I think the union for the Park workers is different from the one that is striking? Is that right?

  • David Topping
  • http://undefined friend68

    I hope these non-union managers, who got the worst shaft when it comes to their pay — worse than the city councilors gave themselves, get a whole lot of love and respect. They are breaking their backs for us.

  • Vic De Zen

    I haven’t seen any new waste receptacles in my area, just ones overflowing with refuse. Sigh…

  • http://undefined Loozrboy

    I’ve noticed several of the new bins on Danforth (between Main and VP or so) in the past week. I couldn’t swear to when exactly they appeared, but the look new, and clean. Some of them are right next to overflowing old bins.

  • Patrick Metzger

    My wife and I ran into some city managers picking up bags of trash from Yonge near Lawrence (in a city truck with white paper taped over the logos) and we( did go up and say thanks. I hope they get some recognition when this is all over. Or sooner.

  • http://undefined rek

    I’m pretty sure they’re the same union. Garbage and recycling, park maintenance (except for tree trimming/removal?), snow ploughing, street sweeper operators, etc. Anyone who works for the city outdoors.

  • http://undefined chumptastic

    there’s a brand new one at university and college. just this afternoon i was trying to figure how it remained unscathed while the old-style bin half a block away was overflowing.

  • http://undefined cleanair

    Made me laugh at how you interviewed! Thanks.
    These bins are ugly as sin.

  • Vic De Zen

    I don’t mind the look but I think they could have gone for something a bit more stable. I’ve seen them tilted forward as though they may topple over and spill their contents. It was like someone purposely bent the support beam it’s mounted on, although I must admit I haven’t looked at them too closely to be sure. Ultimately it just doesn’t seem to be a very durable design to be honest.

  • http://undefined rek

    I’ve seen them tipped forward, too far from the curb (garbage can + fruit market = blocked sidewalk), and more than one with a perpetually-unlocked rear door.