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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Will John Tory keep his promise about garbage?

Nearly six months into his term as Toronto's mayor, John Tory's accomplishments are mostly those of style rather than substance. In terms of legislative accomplishments, his predecessor Rob Ford achieved significantly more in at the beginning of his mayoralty, and that was with almost all of an antagonistic Toronto's media browbeating him at every opportunity.

By contrast, Tory has enjoyed an extended honeymoon from a fawning media still breathing a collective sigh of relief that the current mayor's surname isn't Ford. That media support has helped Tory maintain high approval ratings.

But one of the promises that Ford had kept and John Tory has not was the privatization of garbage pick-up. Ford had wanted all of Toronto's garbage privatized, and had tremendous public support for that cost-saving measure. That support was created to a large extent by an aggravating garbage strike during David Miller's term, which Miller had handled so disastrously that it is credited with bringing his political career to an end.

As a compromise with the civic union-backed, socialist councilors at City Hall, Ford managed to get garbage pick-up privatized for half the city as an "experiment." The experiment is an obvious success. Not only does it save the city money, but the pick up service from private garbage collectors west of Yonge Street is substantially better than the service provided by municipal employees.

In the days before private garbage pick-up in Toronto, I didn't have to know what day of the week it was or actually lay eyes on a garbage truck to know it was garbage or recycling pick-up day. Pools of putrid ooze would fester about twenty yards apart on every block, turning the air fetid and staining the roads until the next rainfall. Broken glass was strewn across the roads, making them obstacle courses for those of us who bicycle and rollerblade through the city,

All that changed west of Yonge with private garbage pick-up. The roads are clean and the garbage gets picked up with substantially more efficiency.

During his campaign for mayor, Tory made a big deal about how he would extend private garbage pick-up, and its improved service to the entire city. That promise so far remains unfulfilled. Instead, a "study" has been commissioned, costing the city more money, and enabling the civic unions to delay a fiscal benefit to taxpayers as a compromise with union-beholden city councilors.

One of the benefits that John Tory brings to his office that Rob Ford lacked is the ability, which his media friends have bolstered, to effectively marginalized the trough-feeding far left of City Council. But one of the concerns of the people that supported Ford, first Rob and then his brother Doug, who assumed his campaign when the former mayor was taken ill, was of John Tory's natural inclination to be over-conciliatory.

The way, and if, John Tory does or does not keep his promise about privatizing garbage pick-up in Toronto will provide a good indication of the extent to which those fears were justified.

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