What’s Toronto Mayor David Miller doing with his garbage?

Going to a dump site is “sort of like giving in to the strikers”


millerDavid Miller’s garage stinks. It should—it’s full of trash.

The Toronto city workers’ strike has already dragged on for a month. As a result, municipal services like pools, daycares, kids camps, and garbage collection have been shut down. (Grab a copy of this week’s Maclean’s for more on the strike.) If residents want to get rid of their refuse they have to take it to one of the city’s management-run temporary dump sites, 19 of which are still accepting garbage. But the Miller family has held on to their trash, and plan to continue adding to the garbage heap until the strike ends. Hauling it to a temporary dump site isn’t an option. “That’s sort of like giving in to the strikers,” says Miller.

He’s extremely frustrated by the strike and the problems it’s causing, but says living with trash can be made tolerable with a little work. He separates his refuse and recyclables, and tries to minimize the smell of organic waste by tossing it in a backyard composter. But composting only goes so far. City equipment can handle meat, for instance, but most household composters can’t. So Miller has to throw his leftover burgers and steaks into black bags and let them rot. “If you’re in the middle of the garage, getting a bike out or something, you can tell there’s a month’s worth of garbage there,” he says. His recyclables are piling up too, so his family is trying to buy products with less packaging to save space.

But no matter how big the pile gets or how often his kids—who would normally be at a city-run summer camp during the day—say they’re bored, the mayor refuses to cave. “Keeping the garbage in the garage is a small inconvenience,” he says. “And if I’m an example of what the average citizen can do, we can throw our garbage in the garage almost indefinitely.”

Canada's best-run citiesAlso at Macleans.ca:
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The festering trash is just another sign that the city’s high hopes are being held ransom by out-of-control costs

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What’s Toronto Mayor David Miller doing with his garbage?

  1. I feel sorry for all of you have to put up with this mayor and the strike. I am sure that he is thinking of all the people with no garage nor backyard nor day care options. I guess you know what to do next election day.

    • Those people tend to have private waste collection.

    • I like that, despite being late to the party, he's thinking about the city's financial solvency and holding the line against unreasonable demands. So yes, I know what to do next election day, thanks.

      • that is right he also took a raise of 34% over the last 2 years plus a bonus , right along with all his other buddys, while closing down services or increasing fees and taxes.

        • Actually, Toronto city councilors make less than other nearby 905 councilors, and Miller plus several other councilors have returned their recent pay raise (which was under 3%). Do you have any links or evidence for your claimed 34% plus bonus?

          • http://www.thestar.com/Unassigned/article/165495

            The mayor isn't about to get into the debate about the 25-per-cent pay hike for members of the provincial parliament.

            He has been asked several times about the issue, especially since city councillors caught a lot of flak for giving themselves a relatively modest 9-per-cent pay increase earlier this year.

            looking for the news on the bonus

          • http://www.toronto.ca/city_council/salaries.htm

            even if you just take the 9 percent increase it is more then he is offereing the striking workers and he is pulling that over a 3 or 4 year span. Why is it that when times are tough the politicians say we all need to tighten our belts and they keep voting for their own raises. years ago it was nurses and teachers having their pay frozen for a number of years but politicians kept on climbing in theirs.

          • Agreed that belt-tightening should have started sooner. But comparing raises and freezes under different economic conditions or indeed different mayors and premiers is not very balanced.

          • Looks like my posts with many links are getting flagged or held, so here's a list with no links. Found these all with Google in ten minutes:

            Year, Mayor, Council, Where found
            2009, 166985, 99153, Toronto's homepage
            2008, 163040, 96805, Wikipedia
            2007, 160000, 95000, Adam Giambrone's site
            2006, 148000, 87000, Adam Giambrone's site
            2005 ?
            2004, 142539, 84068, Google Books

            I don't see a 9% raise!

          • 160000/148000 = 1.081

            That is an 8% raise in 2007. The other raises look to be at the rate of inflation. Since 2004 it works out to an annual rate of about 3%. That does not seem unreasonable to me, though mayoral salaries are bizarre. Larry O'Brien in Ottawa makes as much as Miller, while the mayor of Vancouver only makes about 120,000. Mayor Daley in Chicago makes 216,000; Mayor Nutter in Philadelphia (probably the closest to Toronto in size) makes 186,000 (after a voluntary $18000 pay cut) and New York mayor Bloomberg, $225,000 (though he only takes $1).

            I wonder though if the non-monetary perks of running a larger city are the reason that you don't see amazingly high salaries for the bigger cities (things peak around $200,000/year). Running a bigger city gives one a national profile, connections and a sure spot on a well-paid corporate board after you retire (not to mention more opportunities for graft).

          • I believe he and the lazy councillors gave each other a almost 30% raise back in 2003- or 4. Unfortunately, like Miller, his supportors are ideology driven vs. practicality. I actually voted for Miller in his first term as I thought a large airport on the island would ruin park space. Now I'm a enthusiastic fan of Porter and their services. But let's not mention that Miller completely failed on his promise not to have Porter exist/expand. He's raised property taxes, licence fees, car registration fees, land transfer taxes, garbage fees, PET fees, USER fees for rec centres, closed down pools, water utilities, Streep parking permit fees, shorterned library hours, shut down ice rinks during march break (how does this make sense? – close down rec centers while kids are OUT of school?) and lets not mention we're also over 3 Billion dollars in debt!(since 2002) . We've had 2 TTC strikes, 2 Garbage Strikes, a Record No. of murders (2006) all under his watch. Someone explain to me what he and his policies have done successfully?

    • So when the strike ends will the city then charge the additional levy on people who put out their saved-up extra bags of garbage? Is that why Miller is advocating this approach? Maybe this is how he plans to finance the new streetcars, hold a strike and charge a fee for all the stored up garbage?

  2. You can probably smell his garage from a mile away. The neighbours are suffering.

  3. The great leader of the City of Toronto is extremely disingenious in his comments on why he does not take his garbage to the City drop offs where he tells his citizens to go for only one reason. He does not want to to be seen or caught on camera crossing a picket line just as most of the leadership of Toronto on his NDP Executive Committee also refuse to show up for work and refuse to freeze their own salaries because that would compromise the bargaining position of their CUPE allies in negotiations. For all those in Canada who think that Toronto is a sink hole for public money. You are right.

    • I agree that being camera shy is smart from his perspective, but I actually like that he's suffering more than he's asking most citizens to. I'd rather have his garage stink and him wrinkle his nose more, because he's making the decisions on this. Better than hiding from the stink, hiring private contractors to take his family's garbage, and missing out on what he's creating for other families.

  4. So a bunch of people who's skills amount to picking up garbage can hold a city to ransom for more money and better working conditions. They could of course get a better job but apparently it is their constitutional right to pick up garbage and prevent any other people from doing it.

    • "So a bunch of people who's skills amount to picking up garbage"

      Don't even have those 'skills', necessarily. It's the same old thing from the unions: demand more money and benefits and, in exchange, they will work less.

      "All this was done to ease the burden on trash collectors. Worried by escalating compensation and disability claims, the city has invested in a fleet of trucks equipped with hydraulic arms which literally do the heavy lifting for the collectors. On some streets, employees wheel the bins on to the back of the truck, where they place them on mechanical lift; on others, the truck simply drives alongside, reaching out for the bins with a hydraulic arm equipped with a grapple. The driver rarely has to get out of the cab." Gillis/Lunau, Macleans, July 27 '09

    • By the way, although I think the strike is nuts, and they're crazy to be doing this, the garbage guys are just a small part of the group out there. Public health nurses and docs, accountants, social workers, child care workers, lifeguards etc.

      When you start your staement off with an easily corrected error, less generous souls may doubt everything that comes after.

    • "skills amount to picking up garbage"… um you're obviously a victim of the city's propaganda machine. There are a LARGE number of NON-Garbage people involved in this. Paramedics, EMD's, Nurses, Public Health workers, … all skilled in their own professions. …
      I think we should all withhold the newest portion of our taxes, the one that goes for trash collection according to Gray bin…..

      • I agree. I think those working in the health profession such as paramedics should be given fair treatment and give them those 18 sick days…i think they deserve it. What I think most Torontonians are pissed about are the garbage collectors or city office workers making $25+ an hour and also demanding the 18 bankable sick days. I personally think paramedics etc. should have their own union and not be lumped in with garbage collectors. It doesn't make sense … I mean, give people fair wages yes, but come on people…18 bankable sick days?

        • Everyone should be given fair treatment. The question (and debate) is, what is fair?

    • City Council could hire private contractors. They won't do this. Perhaps they are (also) the ones holding the city to a ransom.

  5. At the end of the day its all politics, both sides deserve to fight for what they think is right. However i remember in the early 90's their was a Provincial strike and my mother had to picket in the winter and we ended up missing christmas, both sides need to give a little to get a little because everyone is loosing here. Single mothers on tight budgets and those that dont even have a job to strike for we are all losing.. please come to a resolution and stop the fighting

  6. Miller is an anal retentive socialist who doesn't listen to anyone. My guess is he's storing the garbage in his basement, attic and guest room.

    • If he ever needs lessons on how not to be listened to, I'm sure he'll give you a call.

  7. Mayor Miller says: “And if I'm an example of what the average citizen can do, we can throw our garbage in the garage almost indefinitely.”
    'Throw our garbage in the garage almost indefinitely?' This is a solution and an option for the man who is supposedly trying to lead Torontonians out of this hell in which they find themselves? If so, you guys in T.O. better buckle down for a long, stinky summer, and perhaps beyond.
    As another reader has already rightly noted, do all Toronto residents even have a garage? What an elitist, out-of-touch thing for a mayor struggling with a public relations disaster to say. I am rather astonished this quote is attributed to him. His communications handlers must either be inept, or rubbing their high foreheads in frustration that he wandered so far off message and offered such an insulting, cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all 'solution' to long-suffering residents.
    I'm not a great fan of the city of Toronto, but in this case I truly do feel for the citizens there. They paid their taxes; they expected that payment to come with the service which those taxes fund. Yet they are being held hostage by a militant union. And the mayor who supposedly represents the people is too enthralled by his own leftist ideology to actually get tough with the union thugs, get court injunctions, and bring some needed relief to the very same people who are footing the bill for both parties' idiocy!

  8. If the strike continues, the CNE will be cancelled next month and everybody will feel disappointed including me. I always look forward to the CNE every year and this time I will have to be prepared in case it gets cancelled next month

  9. Mr. Miller is out of touch with his city. The 'average' Torontonian as he says, does not live in a single family detached home with a garage like Mr. Miller. It's not that easy. And his second statement, that going to a transfer station or what have you is "giving in to the strikers" means that we all need to come up with alternative options. Give me a break. Both parties are at fault in this situation, and Mr. Miller for his part, as the leader of the city, has failed his citizens horribly.

    • I keep hearing people say he's failed the city in this strike. care to elucidate?
      If he gave in to the workers' demands to avoid a strike, that would be a failure.
      If he doesn't, and they strike, he's also a failure?
      What would constitute a sucess in this situation?

      • Success in this situation is requesting back to work legislation. So the summer for all Torontonians could be salvaged. Think of the children and single parents who are losing out. I only say this as the unions don't seem to be care and Miller is the Mayor of this city and should respond accordingly. He needs to step up and be the bigger person here. Both sides can still barter after services have resumed.

        • The province made it quite clear early on, to the mayor and to the general public, that will not, at this point, introduce back-to-work legislation. That card has already been pulled from his deck. So, we still need a definition of success.

          • Success would be to apply what Mayor Daley of chicago did. Fire 1500 of workers and see if they still want to stick it out. Success would also be to hire private contractors to pick up the garbage from the temporary dump sites. unions have the right to strike, the citizens of Toronto also have the right to hire alternative services should the unions FAIL to provide a service.

        • Success certainly is not requesting back to work legislation. Success would be passing out-of-work legislation, in other words, making it illegal for the government to employ people where the private sector can do a much better job of it. Success would be walking into McDonald's and being served by your garbageman of yester-month.

  10. The next question is what are union leader Craig Ferguson and his union members dong with their garbage? Are they crossing their own picket lines to dump? Macleans / Todd, can you look into that one?

    • Good question I wonder if he has to wait 3 hours before they will allow him to drop off his garbage. Oh when they do go back to work are they going to expect overtime to clean up the mess they caused.

    • They are probably doing what the union is here in Windsor and that is piling it up on the curb in front of their union hall. And then what happens is that the Health Unit orders the city to remove it.

    • It's Mark Ferguson, isn't it? Anyways, he lives in Brampton. 'nuff said.

  11. This guy is a very dangerous man!! He should never have been voted in. This city should be run as a business and not run by the unions and the leftist members of council. They refuse to show up for work for fear of crossing a picket line. The city should go ahead give them what they want then immediately start to CONTRACT out the services. We lost private pickup of garbage in York, which was actually cheaper. DUMP THIS MAYOR and all his leftist guinea pigs as soon as possible. If the mayor and chancellors don't show up for work, FIRE THEM!!!

  12. Must be nice to have a garage in the city!

  13. Judging from the number of Ontario license plates on the roads out west, my guess is that Slumdog Miller is shipping a lot of his garbage out of the province one car at a time.

    Toronto's new slogan should read “Toronto, Canada's Dump.”

    • Love it "Slumdog Miller"

      • Yeah, really clever, except this poster is also referring to Ontario tourists who are driving around out west as 'garbage'.
        Please read the whole post before you say you 'love it' (And, yes, I am assuming that Donna is from Ontario – even if she is not, why would Canadians anywhere agree that people from one part of their great country are 'garbage'? That's just nasty!)
        And Dakota, why such anger towards Ontarians? You may not personally like us bringing our money out there, but I am sure there are many people in the tourism industry through all parts of the west who may disagree with you.
        On that note, I was in Banff National Park earlier this month. To that I can say, Loved it! And no garbage anywhere to be seen.

        • I did not call people from Ontario garbage, you made that inference yourself. I said that they were haling garbage from Ontario out west one car load at a time.

          Find a sense of humor.

          Or is it buried in a mountain of garbage?

          • ok, ok…let's not all get worked up. The issue at hand is unions and politicians holding citizens hostage regardless of where in this fantastic country we live.

  14. I hope Mr. Miller opens up his garage for all those people out there that don't have one. His socialist agenda will not allow him to cross picket lines to get on with other city business – what are all of council on strike now too?! Not only am I not receiving garbage pickup, but council is not working either! This only gives more power to the unions whose aim is to shut down the city and strong-arm a resolution in their favour. In my opinion, the best solution is to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible to demonstrate that we will not be held in fear….

  15. Are you kidding me??, he can throw garbage in his garage indefinitely? Amazing, just amazing………Wow, what a great citizen he must be to stubbornly say to himself that all is well and his garage has lots of room for more garbage, never mind the health risks… I think Macleans needs to put him on the cover more often.

    Through this entire stirke I have never seen him so embarassed or upset than when he showed up on the cover of Macleans and was asked about it during a news conference. He was clearly miffed. Nice.

    • Hey GTA Chuck, I think he should volunteer his garage as an upscale dumpster, anyway he'll say… "it is all well".

    • I know where Miller has put his garbage… he's filled his budget with it.

  16. It's really interesting how patient can Torontonians be with this "Mayor", who showed speed of light trying to strip benefits out of worker's contracts, and none velocity whatsoever to even talk about returning money to "his" taxpayers for the services not delivered i.e. garbage collection, and closed summer camps that are already paid.

    Refund the money, please. Give a fair contract to the workers. If you can't do this, just resign and let a competent citizen take your place.

  17. With the current employment situation as it is, there are thousands of people ready and eager to take over the jobs of those that do not want their jobs.
    It should be illegal for anyone whose salary is paid by the Taxpayer to strike.
    This strike was planned to cause the most harm to the Taxpayers who are paying their salaries and benefits. Why does the Taxpayer allow it ?

  18. Withn all this,do not be surprised to hear that he has been re-elected in a landslide.I am so glad I moved three years ago,I still drive there for my job every morning.Full of crime,full of garbage,they have summer festivals coming up and they will do it all in the garbage?Trash cans almost tipping over overfilled with trash.Litter everywhere.Shopkeepers are the ones making the effort to keep the curbs clean,this is sad.Whoever visits that city this summer will not be coming back,I can guarantee you that.

    • Give me a brek Outsider. I work in the downtown core and considering we've had a month of this strike, the streets are pretty clean. There is actually a volunteer movement in the city that has people going to the worst areas to help clean up. We're doing our best as citizens under the lunatic unions and our even more lunatic mayor.

      • What nonsense.Have you bothered to look at the sidewalks,the trash cans that tipping over overfilled with garbage,on every corner.You like looking at that?Open your eyes.The sidewalks are littered.That is your idea of 'clean'?Do you live in a dump or something?

        • His name is FedUpInToronto – obviously he lives in a dump!

  19. Maybe the mayor should face reality and let the whole city councel in .
    He and his minions are making the city even worse.
    I think the whole city will be better off without hi royal blondeness david miller.
    Better still go back to california

  20. I hope Torontoians realize what this Mayor is all about.
    I never voted for Miller and never will. This man has no respect for Torontonians……especially motorists.

    He nickel and dimes us at every turn, lets these bike riders in our streets do what they want because he refuses to plate them so they can be held accoutable for their wrong doings, wants to hold on these damn streetcars, and has made a mess of streets like St. Clair.
    Now he wants us to keep our garbage at home.

    As the world changes we all have to make adjustments but this Mayor it out of control. He should step down NOW.

    (Fed Up)

    • As crazy as it seems, I think you are forgetting that their are people in the world who do not drive cars. What about their tax money? What about the billions of dollars that go into building and maintaining roads for cars.

      Compared to the public transit systems in the major cities in the US, Europe, and Asia, ours is ancient, if we don't get our acts together to improve our transit system, we will be left behind.

      How can you say that David Miller has no respect for Torontonians when he is the only one standing up for the minorities and the future of the city.

      If you can't stand the mayor, may I suggest moving to Alberta?

  21. i propose the next drop off zone will be in his lawn

  22. I am astonished that people are so angry at the mayor, calling him a leftist, when he is the one standing up to the unions. Yes the stike is hard for everyone but there is no need to use the mayor as a scape goat. As for the garbage, I live in a small house with five people and we havn't filled up our garbage bin yet. Perhaps instead of complaining about the mess, people should get their own composts and stop consuming uneccessary amounts.

    David Miller I salute you!

    • If Miller was really standing up to the unions or had any interest in serving Toronto residents this strike would be over by now — or at least close to a resolution.

      And people — especially Toronto residents — have every right to be angry at Miller for mishandling this situation. He can't simply take all the credit for successes but deny responsibility for any failures. The buck stops at him.

    • If David Miller was standing up to the unions, their members would be right now mid-way through an interview with the local Wal-Mart midnight manager – and being told that they simply do not have the qualifications.

  23. Take my poll. Vote for the 2010 mayor of Toronto. There's 32 names to choose from. The poll is an STV/AV preferential ballot (ie. 1, 2, 3, and so on.)


  24. Miller IS the problem in Toronto, his answer for absolutely everything is to find a way for us to pay more. Daycare is horrid, property tax out of control, what does he do with the extra $60/year carbon tax, we pay $150 to park ON THE STREET, we used to work until June 28th of each year just for the government now i believe we are into September……when does it end…my pay cheque doesnt go up each time he decides to increase a tax here and there..i dont recall the last time i got a nine percent increase never mind 18 sick days a year. Miller caused this garbage problem and eventually he will give in and in a few years they will strike again for more and more and more. Where does it end, when is enough….ENOUGH!! We in Canada are to complacent we just go with the flow and let someone else make all our decisions for us, sure we bitch but we DO NOTHING.

    • Call your City Councillor and demand a refund for the services that have not been delivered for the last month.

  25. I am a University-trained Public Health Nurse who never wanted to be on strike. I am also a taxpayer who is in tune with the larger economic realities and the need for fiscal restraint. The Union has not given me any detailed information. The City has locked us out-asking us to hand in our equipment, security key fobs etc. even before the strike deadline. I would go back to work in a flash. I do not want to be a scab because of reprisals. There are many of us caught in the middle of this political game of saving face and who flinches first.

  26. New Rule: For as long as our governments enforce monopolies, we get to remunerate the recipients with monopoly money.

  27. Bring back Mel…Oy Vey!

    • Mel's the one who gave garbage workers with ten years seniority the right to a permanent job with the city to end another strike. They are unfireable thanks to him. What's needed is a mayor who looks out for all his citizens instead of his union buddies. That's not Miller. He's been doing his best to help the unions by stalling on any action against them. Their contract was up in January. He let them drag out negotiations to the hot summer months. The city had a list of demands. It gave up every one of them but the union won't give in on even the egregious sick day payout demand. Miller talked tough to Torontonians in the first days of the strike, threatening fines for dumping etc., not a word to the unions. He doesn't take out legal injunctions against unions for delaying people exercising their legal right to use the city designated dumps. He also has a legal right to have the trash hauled away from the parks but leaves it there to help the unions. He's spent Toronto into huge debt draining all reserves and knows it. The union demands can only be met by borrowing more money. Since he's already charging a special garbage tax for a service that's not being provided he's on thin ice. Contract out to private garbage collection as in Etobicoke (and North York until Miller handed that back to his greedy union buddies) and kick Miller to the curb as well.

  28. Fuck UNIONS…the scourge of modern civilization…antiquated, redundant and a bunch of bingo playing trailer trash!….get rid of them and employ free enterprise, then you will see the difference between producitivity and blowhards!!!

  29. The very least the city taxpayer should expect, the very least, will be a refund of one month's garbage collection and other services portion of their tax (so far). The inconvenience and other damage can be compensated by sinking this great mayor in the next municipal elections.