When 'spoiled' Torontonians lost twice-a-week garbage pickup
To save money, city shifted to less frequent waste collection schedule in 1993
The complaints were piling up as quickly as the garbage bags were.
That's what the City of Toronto found out when it decided to pick up residents' trash half as often as it used to.
In the spring of 1993, the city began sending out garbage trucks only once per week to each house, as opposed to the two weekly rounds it had previously made.
Why? Because the city calculated it could save $3 million annually by making the switch to once-a-week garbage pickup.
'There's no service'
Despite the cost savings, many residents believed the solution simply stank.
Like the cardigan-wearing man who became irate when a garbage worker would not take his yard waste because it was not the collection day for that kind of material.
The man, who threw his yard waste onto the garbage truck himself, told CBC that he blamed the management at city hall.
"They increase taxes every year and there's no service," the man said.
Hundreds of complaints
Just six weeks into the new system, the city had already received hundreds of complaints, according to what the CBC's Paul Hunter reported on Prime Time News on May 13, 1993.
There seemed to be an initial period of confusion as to when garbage or recycling was to be put out at the curb, even though the city had distributed calendars to explain all changes to the residential pickup schedule.
Nick Vardin, the public works commissioner, believed some of the frustration stemmed from changes to yard-waste pickup.
"If the yard waste, for example — which has been the major problem — is not picked up the date that they're supposed to pick it up, [residents] phone and whine and complain and there's some truth to that," he told Prime Time News.
What did the workers think?
The people picking up the trash for the city had varying views on the problems being reported.
Some workers thought it would take time for residents to adjust to the new system, while others thought the complainers were not being reasonable.
"The City of Toronto has been spoiled for years," said one city worker, who was asked to comment on the complaints residents had been making.
As Hunter then pointed out to Prime Time News viewers, it wasn't as if Toronto was a pioneer in collecting residents' garbage just once a week.
"Vancouver's picked up its garbage that way for 25 years and it seems to work fine there," he said.
"If Toronto saves the money it expects to on this, grumbling taxpayers or not, the new schedule will likely be around for a while."