Private garbage pickup from Yonge Street to the Etobicoke border may be “too great a risk to take”, Coun. Janet Davis says.
On Oct. 24, after a long day of debating, city council voted 26-16 in favour of privatizing waste collection and awarded Pickering-based Green For Life Environmental Corporation the contract.
“It’s a great day today … saving $78 million for the taxpayers,” Mayor Rob Ford said.
Davis, though, was skeptical.
“There are contrary estimates of what the savings will be and there are many of us who think, If it sounds too good to be true, it might just be,” she said.
The move to privatize fulfills a campaign promise, Ford said.
“We’re doing exactly what we said we’re going to do,” he said. “We talked to the people of Etobicoke and they’re really happy with the private garbage collection [they already receive].
“I’m sure the west side of the city will be just as happy and eventually we’ll contract out the whole city, just one step at a time.”
The ultimately successful Green For Life bid for the garbage contract — the lowest received by the city at $176 million for a seven-year deal — was recommended to councillors on Oct. 19, leaving them with two business days to review it before the Oct. 24 meeting.
“I think it’s very disappointing,” Coun. Mike Layton said. “We were just getting a better idea of what the numbers actually were and we were starting to see it’s not the level of savings they profess it is.”
A more thorough analysis of the deal should have been done before agreeing to it, Davis said.
“The bid [by Green For Life] that came in was 26 per cent lower then the average bid,” she said. “This is a lowball bid and what comes with a lowball bid is risk, and this contract only 70 per cent of the costs are guaranteed.
“We were expecting a third-party independent analysis of whether this contract could be delivered at this price and we didn’t get that from Ernst and Young, we didn’t get that from our staff.”
Private garbage pickup west of Yonge Street is scheduled to start in late summer 2012. The jobs of about 300 city workers are set to to be affected when the seven-year deal kicks in.
“We don’t know what routes there will be,” Davis said. “We don’t know how many employees there will be. We know there will.be fewer trucks.”
“We also have the haunting image of our garbage not getting picked up,” he said.
“There are many of us left thinking this is too great a risk to take,” Davis said.