John Tory backs privatized garbage collection in Scarborough

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he supports a recommendation to test out privatized garbage collection in Scarborough.

Public works committee set to consider recommendation next week

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced Wednesday in Etobicoke that he wants to study private garbage collection in Scarborough. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he supports a recommendation to test out privatized garbage collection in Scarborough.

City garbage collectors currently serve all areas east of Yonge Street. City staff are now recommending a competition to see who can deliver the cheapest service to all areas east of Victoria Park Avenue, known as District 4.

In a report released Wednesday, city staff wrote that the results of the competition in District 4 can be "used as a guide" for whether or not to privatize garbage collection in District 3, the area east of Yonge but west of Scarborough.

The city has been contracting out garbage collection in the city's west end since 2012. Tory said that move has saved the city millions.

"I want to save money in the east end as well," said Tory, who wheeled a garbage bin to the curb before making the announcement at a Wednesday news conference in Etobicoke.

Tory said the move is "not about ideology," and that a test is necessary to see whether private garbage collection will be cheaper than what city workers can offer. The mayor also pointed out that privatized garbage collection is the norm in many other GTA cities.

CUPE Local 416, which represents the city's garbage collectors, has already launched a campaign saying Tory's push to privatize more garbage collection amounts to "firing" the workers.

"Mayor Tory has demonstrated that he doesn't value their quality work and dedication to customer service excellence and efficiency," the union's website,, says.

The union only learned of the privatization report when it was announced Wednesday, the local's executive vice president Matt Figliano told reporters.

If Scarborough garbage collection were privatized, city workers would only pick up waste in the downtown core. Figliano said that the city would no longer have the trucks or the manpower to cover both Etobicoke and Scarborough if both were privatized and contractors tried to raise their prices. 

"Once Scarborough is contracted out, you're at the mercy of the contractor," he said. "We have that balance today; it keeps the City of Toronto workers, it keeps the contractors honest."

Union will be able to bid on 6-year contract

Private garbage collection in the city's west end started in 2012. (Jonathan Castell/CBC)

In a staff report, city managers are recommending the union be able to bid for the opportunity to do the work through an alternative procurement approach called managed competition. If the union doesn't bid, the city will still move forward with its plan to contract out the work. 

A six-year contract with the chance of two one-year extensions will be put up for grabs.

The union is not set up to bid on a call for proposal, Figliano said, noting that he plans to discuss the report with the rest of the local and its executive. 

​The city would spend some $500,000 on the competition process, but it remains unclear how much privatizing garbage collection would save in coming years.

Figliano said it would actually be more expensive to privatize, something he said was proven by a 2015 municipal staff report originally examining the possibility. 

Scarborough residents just want their garbage picked up for the lowest possible cost, Tory said.

The city's public works committee is set to consider the recommendation next week.

With files from Trevor Dunn and Laura Fraser