TORONTO — As Toronto Mayor John Tory battled allegations of ethical wrongdoing, the city was supposed to save millions in operating costs by switching to private trash haulers.
Officials from Toronto’s largest waste management company stood by Tory, their boss, at the recent criminal and corruption trial, emphasizing that the city was now using them in partnership with private companies, noting that they were in the process of replacing trash trucks and operating new electronic monitoring systems.
“We’re just so proud that we had the opportunity to stand by the mayor when he was being accused of not doing his job. We stood by him and we supported him every step of the way,” Maribeth Deschamps, the chief financial officer for Veolia Canada, told the court.
It’s a message the mayor seemed to believe when he formally introduced those firms at an Oct. 15 news conference saying the private haulers “are already executing cost savings plans, and those savings will significantly add to the annual budget savings we have already projected,” he said.
But a new report shows otherwise.
On Thursday, a new city-commissioned report published by the Toronto Star showed that Toronto did not save a dime in operating costs over five years after it outsourced its trash haulers.
Instead, the report showed that over that time period the city agreed to pay Veolia and Veolia’s partners Rona Technologies and International Solid Waste Solutions more than $50 million in multiple payments.
The report also shows the city allowed Veolia and those partners to replace older trucks that were leaking toxic garbage, many with dirty valves, with trucks that made about twice as much noise, which may have led to 80,000 metric tons of toxic garbage rotting in the trucks when the new trucks were being installed.
But the report also shows that Mayor Tory was the driving force behind the decision to start outsourcing trash pick-up in 2013. That’s when, according to the report, Tory pushed for what the Star called a “sweeping, 10-year proposal to bring in a new fleet of garbage and recycling trucks” to run the city’s automated trash, recycling and compost collections.
And when Tory took office in 2014, he pushed through a private management contract that includes $145 million in payments to Veolia.
Though the city’s administration had intended to save millions in operating costs with the transition, a total of $86 million was needed to cover the costs of the outsourcing. In one 2015 spreadsheet, it shows the city planned to pay about $850,000 a year more per truck.
The contract came in at $89 million, but “a review of the current fee structure” suggested those costs could be reduced to $61 million.