City Will Ask for Garbage Collection Bids from Private Sector
Photo by wvs from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.
City council, after debating for the day, has voted 32–13 in favour of a motion that will allow the City to issue a Request for Quotations from private companies on trash pick-up for the area of Toronto west of Yonge, and some other garbage services, such as collecting garbage from parks and “litter vacuum operations.”
The morning began with Mayor Ford’s speech to council, a speech that quite literally was divisive:
You’re going to have one side of council that is going to support high taxes, big spending, out-of-control union contracts…We’re going to have the other side of people that are going to have respect for taxpayers’ money, that want to bring accountability to City Hall, that are sick and tired of the tax-and-spend socialists down in this city. That’s where it’s going to come down to. So we’re going to have the left or you’re going to have the right.
With the city’s representatives thus split into their respective camps, Ford did make one significant concession: an alteration to the original proposal to allow council to look at the quotations for service pitched by various potential contractors, rather than delegating that to the Bid Committee. This “concession” actually amounts to adhering to standard standard procedure: the terms of the Bid Committee, which is composed of three or so staff members, make it clear that it isn’t supposed to decide on contracts greater than $20 million—the thinking being that our elected officials ought to decide on so large a contract. It was, however, an important political shift for Ford to make, as it allayed the concerns that many centrist councillors had about the privatization plan, boosting support for the overall proposal.
Councillors, many of those opposing the privatization proposal, spent the morning questioning staff. Among their concerns: that private contractors don’t typically hire women for garbage collection positions (which the City does), that workers employed by private contractors don’t receive pensions (which City workers do), and that the private company responsible for trash collection in Etobicoke has been found in violation of the City’s Fair Wage policy, yet would still be allowed to bid on this contract.
Simply put: the councillors who are most worried about privatization framed their concerns as a matter of the City providing stable, middle-class jobs in the process of providing necessary services, and that not being quite as dastardly as Ford would have it. Ford’s supporters, meanwhile, invoked the need for fiscal restraint and a new attitude at City Hall, one in which workers were no longer able to rely on a “jobs for life” promise from the municipal government.