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Toronto Private waste-collection firm loses Etobicoke contract

Bernadett Pxian and her son Kende watch a Green for Life garbage truck pull away after picking up green bin waste a day late on their street near St, Clair West and Christie in Toronto, August 10, 2012. A number of delays in recently privatized garbage disposal have been reported.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Green For Life, the private waste company tasked with garbage collection in the city's west end, has been deemed ineligible to renew its contract in Etobicoke because of a recent drop in its safety rating.

The city issued a request last month for bids for a new six-year garbage collection contract in Etobicoke – one of the two west-end districts currently served by Green for Life – starting July of next year. But GFL was disqualified from the process because of a downgrade in its safety rating, the city's public works chair Denzil Minnan-Wong said Wednesday.

Instead, Miller Group, an international company with its head office in Markham, is set to be awarded the $88-million contract – an 11.4 per cent increase over the old GFL contract – pending approval from the committee. The contract runs until 2021, with an option to extend to 2023.

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"GFL in the first tender was disqualified because of their driving record, and Miller was the lowest bid," Mr. Minnan-Wong said. He added that GFL's initial bid (before it was disqualified) was lower than Miller's eventual winning one.

GFL's safety rating was downgraded by the province in April from "satisfactory" – a city requirement for bids – to "conditional."

At the time, the city's manager of waste management, Jim Harnum, said that many of the violations happened in the first three months of GFL's contract, while new drivers were getting used to unfamiliar routes. Since then, he said, there has been a vast improvement.

The downgraded safety rating does not affect the city's existing seven-year contract with GFL in District 2 (west of Yonge Street to the Humber River), so long as the company makes "every effort" to restore its satisfactory rating.

Mayor Rob Ford has touted the privatization of garbage collection on the west-end as one of his key accomplishments. He's also pledged, if re-elected, to privatize collection on the east end (Districts 3 and 4) too.

"It is what it is," Mr. Minnan-Wong said of GFL's disqualification in District 1. "I'm hopeful that when we contract out to District 3 and/or District 4, they'll be able to bid."

But Councillor Gord Perks, a vocal critic of GFL and of private garbage collection in general, said he's unhappy with Miller winning the bid.

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"I'm never happy when a service that should be delivered by public forces and accountable to the public government is contracted out," he said. "As residents of my ward have learned over the last couple years, privately delivered garbage service is inferior and less accountable than publicly delivered service."

With a report from Elizabeth Church

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