Toronto residents in the west end can expect delays in garbage collection for the rest of the week, as new staff working for a private contractor continue to run behind schedule.
Green for Life Environmental took over curbside collection between Yonge Street and the Humber River this week, fulfilling Mayor Rob Ford’s vow to reduce costs through contracting out. The new contract is expected to save the city more than $11-million annually.
Turning the campaign promise into a reality has come with some growing pains as the new workers become familiar with routes and learn how to operate the automated systems on garbage trucks, said Jim Harnum, general manager of the city’s solid-waste division.
Mr. Harnum said rain Thursday also slowed down collections, and he predicted trucks would be out until 9 or 9:30 in the evening, roughly the same time work ended on Tuesday and Wednesday.
There has also been a spike in calls to the city’s 311 service to report missed bins. In the first two days of the contract, 860 missed collection calls were reported. About 600 of those had been taken care of by Thursday afternoon, Mr. Harnum said.
The union that represents the city’s garbage workers is running its own hotline to track service complaints.
Earlier in the week, there were reports that unionized staff at the city’s transfer stations were responsible for some of the delays. Those charges were investigated and are “absolutely false,” Mr. Harnum said. “Our union staff at the transfer stations have been more than professional.”
The goal is to complete all collections before the weekend, he said, but some yard waste may be left until Saturday morning if crews “run into trouble.”
Mr. Harnum said he is confident crews will come up to speed in time, noting that GFL already collects garbage in the former City of Etobicoke.
“As the head of this division I can only apologize to residents for the delays, but there are substantial savings here and this is an effort to realize those savings,” he said. “We are going to get there. It just takes time.”