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Despite complaints, Ford praises garbage collection

Mayor Rob Ford is pleased with the performance of Toronto's new private garbage collector, despite more than 1,000 complaints about missed or late trash pickups during the company's first week on the job.

Mr. Ford praised Green For Life Environmental Corp.'s work as "great" and "fantastic" on Monday as he left a news conference to mark the opening of Ryerson University's new athletic centre. inside the old Maple Leaf Gardens.

The mayor ignored a followup question and his office declined to elaborate on the mayor's comments.

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If Toronto's mayor does believe GFL's debut week was "fantastic," he's out of step with his own point man on garbage. , who has expressed disappointment with GFL's slow start.

On Friday, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, said that if GFL doesn't get its crews up to speed by the end of the month, the slow start could make it difficult to contract out more of the city's curbside collection.

GFL started collecting garbage, recycling and organics from 165,000 homes between Yonge Street and the Humber River last Tuesday.

The company's contract with the city requires it to finish pickup by 6 p.m., but last week GFL's lime-green trucks were still rolling through city streets after 9:30 p.m., according to the city's solid waste department.

Contracting out trash pickup in another part of Toronto – GFL already handles curbside collection in Etobicoke – was a major victory for Mr. Ford, who in 2010 campaigned on outsourcing garbage.

He promised at the time to privatize trash collection citywide, but has since said he won't push for privatization east of Yonge Street unless he wins a second term in 2014.

Nearly all of the garbage that had been left on curbsides as of the end of day Friday was picked up over the weekend, said Jim Harnum, general manager of the city's solid waste department.

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"We think we got the majority of the garbage off," he said Monday. "We still [had] a few outstanding calls, probably 15 or 20 calls today. To our knowledge, that's been picked up."

When pickup resumes Tuesday – there's no residential collection on Mondays – Mr. Harnum said he's expecting GFL's performance to improve, as it started to toward the end of last week. He said the company is tweaking routes and increasing the number of trucks it runs at the beginning of the day to 95 from its original plan of 80.

When the city ran the service with in-house employees, it used 107 trucks, Mr. Harnum said.

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Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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