John Tory Wants to Start the Bidding Process to Outsource Garbage Collection Before a Staff Report on the Subject Gets Released

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John Tory Wants to Start the Bidding Process to Outsource Garbage Collection Before a Staff Report on the Subject Gets Released

It's about ideology, not good policymaking.

John Tory says he doesn’t want to wait for a staff report on the merits of outsourcing garbage east of Yonge Street to pursue the idea.

In a Scarborough press conference Monday morning, the mayor announced in advance of a Public Works meeting that he supports a motion from committee chair Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West) that would see the City initiate the bid process for garbage collection east of Yonge Street. Etobicoke outsourced garbage collection pre-amalgamation, and Council outsourced garbage collection from Yonge west to the Humber in a 2011 vote.

While John Tory campaigned on outsourcing garbage in the rest of the city, he encountered some immediate obstacles. In the early days of his administration, he learned that the savings from outsourcing garbage weren’t as significant as originally thought. After a feasibility study was conducted by the City to examine the business case, staff recommended against outsourcing garbage collection in the rest of the city [PDF].

Among the reasons cited in the September 2015 report were increased efficiency in the City-run portion of the city, a labour deal to be negotiated with CUPE 416 in 2016, the value of retaining in-house services, and the prospect that private collection east of Yonge might very well cost more money.

Tory and Robinson criticized the staff report at the time, with the mayor saying that it left “unanswered questions.” He argued that the report made assumptions about potential private sector bids, but these had not been tested.

At the time, Public Works punted the report to be re-examined in late 2016.

A new City report says that enough has changed—a new labour deal, additional workforce metrics—to warrant an additional study of the business case for outsourcing. But Tory and Robinson don’t want to wait for that report to arrive, which is due in January.

In advance of a Council debate on City revenue tools and what looks to be a challenging budget cycle, the mayor could be eager to show his conservative credentials.

But the process here—making a decision in spite of the existing evidence and not waiting for additional data—shows that this move is ideologically motivated. The mayor and the Public Works chair genuinely believe that outsourcing garbage collection east of Yonge would be best for the city, and that’s fine. But they hold this belief without the evidence to support it, which does not provide the basis for policy decisions in the public interest.

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