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article imageCity Council votes to approve privatizing Toronto garbage pickup Special

By Andrew Moran     May 18, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - After a rigorous debate in the council chamber, Toronto city council voted 32-13 in favour of privatizing the city's garbage pickup on Tuesday evening. City staff said the seven-year contract could save the taxpayers $6 million per year.
The council chamber was draped in orange Tuesday as hundreds of union members and representatives packed city hall opposing Mayor Rob Ford and his allies’ plan to privatize the city’s garbage collection.
Teamsters showed their emotion throughout the entire day’s debates. They cheered when a councillor demonstrated their disapproval of privatization. They booed when a councillor was in favour of privatization. Indeed, it was a raucous crowd.
Union members dressed in orange in the council chamber.
Union members dressed in orange in the council chamber.
Despite the passion that was exude from all sides of the chamber, city council voted 32-13 in favour on an amended report to privatize waste collection for approximately 165,000 homes west of Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border.
The approved motion will now cost the jobs of about 300 temporary workers, but Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said those people can reapply in the private sector. “There are no permanent workers that will be out of jobs. The temporary ones, yes.”
At first, the city managers would give the final agreement of the contract, but it will now head back to council.
Although there were some compromises made, the mayor labelled his opponents as “tax-and-spend socialists.” Nevertheless, Ford is happy that “we’re getting this city turned around” and “I’m glad that we’re going to be saving over $60 million in the next four years.”
Not everyone is glad that this motion was passed. City Councillor Gord Perks, considered a left-leaning council member, told reporters during the council meeting that the amendments added onto the motion had prompted the mayor to provide more details to city council and the public, including the savings from contracting out and if there will be protection for recycling initiatives.
“I don't think there is anyone left in the City of Toronto, other than Mayor Ford, who believes the $8 million number,” said Perks. “It has clearly been blown out of the water here today. Nobody takes that number seriously. This is a big setback for the mayor’s agenda,” said Perks, who voted against the measure.
City Councillor Gord Perks speaking with reporters during a media scrum.
City Councillor Gord Perks speaking with reporters during a media scrum.
“Today, Torontonians, through city council, effectively told Mayor Ford, ‘You have not made the case for privatizing garbage yet.’”
Prior to the vote, City Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti told reporters that they have enough votes to contract out, but noted that there needs to be more dialogue from opponents in regards to the cost savings and other concerns.
“It’s no different than what we’ve done over the years in this council chamber. I don’t know what the big deal is about this,” said the Ward 7 York West Councillor. “But the clear intent is that there is a part of this city that we want to try to move into a different level of service and that is west of Yonge Street.”
City Councillor Doug Ford (R)
City Councillor Doug Ford (R)
The former mayoral candidate garnered some heat from garbage collectors after he told them to pick up garbage.
“I know I’m going to get booed or heckled for these comments,” warned Mammoliti. “To the garbage collectors: if you see garbage, pick it up, and if you pick up a garbage can then put it back where you found it.”
Among those who opposed the motion were Councillors Adam Vaughan, Mike Layton, Janet Davis, Kristyn Wong-Tam, Maria Augimeri and Joe Mihevc.
Before debates got underway, a poll that was released Monday suggested a majority of Torontonians support privatized garbage pickup. The survey of 500 people showed that 61 percent support the initiative and 30 percent oppose it.
More about Toronto city council, Rob Ford, toronto garbage pickup, privatizing garbage
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