Last garbage pickup east of Yonge Street?

The usual Friday garbage pickup continued as scheduled in neighbourhoods east of Yonge Street today, as city and union negotiators huddled to find a deal and avert a work stoppage.

This could be the last day for a while for the garbage pickup, as well as for other city services.

If negotiations fail, the two sides will be in a position for a legal strike or lockout as of midnight tonight.

In addition to garbage collection halting, this would mean the closing of community and recreation centres, public pools, arenas and outdoor rinks, as well as the cancelling of snow clearing and events held in public squares, city manager Chris Murray told a press conference yesterday.

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Library branches located in city facilities, such as Flemingdon Park, Todmorden Room and St. James Town, would also be closed.

The deadline for a deal had been early Thursday morning, but the sides agreed to a two-day extension to allow for continued negotiations.

The city issued a news release on Wednesday saying the bargaining committees had agreed to extend the strike deadline by 48 hours to Feb. 29 at 12:01 a.m. and to keep lawyer William Kaplan as mediator between the parties.

bins for garbage pickup
WAITING FOR PICKUP: If the strike takes place east of Yonge Street, residents on the west side will have to put their green bin matter in with the non-organic garbage.

Kaplan is a former professor, author and currently in private practice in Toronto and has experience in arbitration and mediation. His latest book is Why Dissent Matters: Because Some People See Things the Rest of Us Miss, published in 2017.

CUPE 416 president Eddie Mariconda told media the deadline was being extended because progress was being made in negotiations and they needed more time to reach an agreement.

Toronto mayor John Tory also called the extension a ‚Äúpositive development” that could lead to an agreement “good for our workers and good for our residents.”

The previous contract with the city’s outside workers expired at the end of Dec. 19.

Collection west of Yonge, which has been privatized, will continue during an east-side strike, for garbage, but not for green bin material, according to the city. Organic matter will be accepted in regular garbage bins.

The last time Toronto had a major garbage strike was in 2009. In that case the entire city was affected by the work stoppage by both inside and outside workers.

It lasted more than a month as garbage piled up to overflowing in public drop-off points.

Garbage strike scenes 2009
SCENE FROM THE 2009 STRIKE: Street bins were sealed and garbage was piled in outdoor spaces such as at community centres.