CBC Toronto - Photo By Timothy Neesam

Garbage Pickup Resumes Tuesday, August 4th

Residential garbage service has resumed, after Toronto city councillors voted Friday evening to approve deals worked out with two CUPE unions to bring an end to the strike by municipal workers.

The narrow vote was 21-17 in favour and followed a lengthy debate during a special daylong council meeting.

Some councillors threatened to scuttle the deals - which would probably mean a return to the picket lines - but in the end, the opponents couldn't muster enough votes. (full story)

Other Services

Other services that Torontonians depend on will resume as follows:

  • Ferry service is currently running.
  • City-run daycares will reopen Tuesday.
  • Swimming pools will be cleaned and should reopen next week.
  • Animal shelters will re-open Friday, July 31.
  • Summer camp registration will begin next Wednesday.
  • City service desks will re-open Friday, July 31.
  • Parking permits will issued once more on Friday, July 31.
  • Registered camp programs run by Parks, Forestry and Recreation are tentatively scheduled
    to resume on Monday, August 10.

Municipally operated child care facilities will re-open on Tuesday, August 4, immediately following the scheduled vacation closure (July 20 to August 3). More information is available at call 416-392-KIDS.

"While it may take us a few days, Torontonians can expect to have all of their city services up and running by early next week," said Toronto Mayor David Miller.

EMS response under investigation

Alarmingly, there were suggestions the strike by civic workers may have contributed to the death of James Hearst, who collapsed in the lobby of his apartment building. A series of 911 calls failed to produce paramedics - even though the ambulance was on the scene within nine minutes (full story).

Hearst's partner, Alejandro Martinez, suggested the EMS delay might have been due to the strike by city workers that began on June 22. The city's EMS workers are operating at 75 per cent capacity because of the strike, but city officials have said that did not play a role in Hearst's situation.

The City of Toronto has asked the provincial Health Ministry to investigate the incident and has refused to answer any further questions. A transcript of the calls is available.

Making the best of it

The strain on some businesses took a toll, especially businesses along the waterfront unfortunate enough to be located near temporary dump sites, like the Sunnyside Café (full story). In addition, the absence of ferries made Caribana organizers relocate the popular Island Party to Ontario Place (full story).

Mark GiesbrechtMark Giesbrecht on the job (CBC)
Suzanne Burkhardt and Nicolas Longstaff audio
(runs 20:26)

The Business Improvement Areas (BIA's) along Queen Street West joined forces to deal with litter. The BIAs pooled their resources and hired Mark "the Litter Guy" Giesbrecht to lead the effort (full story).

Locals know Mark as the young man who cheerfully accepts cash donations for sweeping up downtown streets. Nicolas Longstaff, Administrator of the West Queen West Business Improvement Area, told Metro Morning listeners it just made sense to bring him on in a more official sense.

"We've been able to take some of the pressure off with a little bit of money for him, and use the knowledge that he's gained in how to get the garbage dealt with in a way that invites other people to help."

Garbage is one problem, but the challenge of finding worthy summer activities for children was another. The Scadding Court Community Centre responded by creating a special camp for children aged 3-5 years old that was specifically intended for families affected by the strike.

Suzanne Burkhardt, Director of Development & Community Engagement at Scadding Court, says the program was in high demand. She hopes efforts to assess and respond to the needs of the community will continue when city employees are back at work.

Water taxiGeorge McQuinn pilots a water taxi

Isolated Island

The strike hit Toronto Island businesses particularly hard. Centreville Amusement Park, which employed more than 400 workers in season, was closed after ferries were cancelled. Adam Rotenberg, who manages the The Rectory Cafe, saw the number of diners dwindle. Likewise, the Island's fledgling theatre, Ward's Island Playhouse, faced empty seats.

Andy Barrie spoke with Toronto Island entrepreneurs hit hard by the strike Listen audio (runs 9:32)

Island access was still possible via the water taxis and tenders that left from Harbourfront Centre and other waterfront locations. The strike did not create the additional demand for their business that you might expect. George McQuinn, who pilots a water taxi, said the number of passengers had not increased.

"Not with Centreville shut down," he says. "That drew the crowds - thousands of people."

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