If the current hatred of Toronto’s clunky garbage cans seems like deja vu, it’s because the city has been talking about those bins since day one.
The Astral Out-of-Home street furniture is currently taking another hit, with City Council and Mayor John Tory speaking himself about the often grubby and often malfunctioning receptacles.
The latest wave of anti-bin sentiment began with a letter from District 8 (Eglinton-Lawrence) City Councilor Mike Colle to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee at City Hall in April.
Calle points out the number of damaged and illegible bins he sees on a daily basis and asks if the city can find out if there has been an increase in the number of destroyed public bins.
(That seems like a simple enough assignment — since the pandemic began, there’s been a definite leap in everything downtown that’s being vandalized and tagged.)
People were fast to jump in on social media to comment on the city’s dilapidated and often overcrowded bins. This comment is quite typical:
“Time to put these ridiculous constructs out of their misery and let the city install simple bins – forget the over-complicated fiddling with this outsourcing to an incompetent private company.”
The mayor recently admitted that he sometimes takes garbage home to get rid of it rather than risk touching the dirty flap on the front of the city’s fancy trash cans.
Even the most casual observer could not help but notice that many city garbage cans are often overflowing, covered in graffiti or damaged.
But the poor beleaguered bins have been loathed since they were introduced.
Astral and the city signed a deal in 2007 that gave them the right to install and maintain 26,000 pieces of street furniture for 20 years. Astral got certain advertising rights and the city got a $428 million windfall in the deal.
The hue and howl over the bins started right away. Since 2007, every major publication and outlet in the city has issued a negative opinion of the bins’ appearance and design, their usefulness and the fact that they may reflect bigger problems in the city.
In May, the city council asked for an update on whether the number of trash bins destroyed had increased.
The City Council also asked the General Manager, Transportation Services and the General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services, in conjunction with Astral Out-of-Home, to explore options for installing new bins or replacement bins, “that better serve the increased urban density and pedestrian activity.”
The Council also requested that all rubbish bins in the city be emptied faster and kept in good condition. “And to collect on a quarterly basis the number of damaged or unusable bins and the time it takes to repair them.”
Asked for comment on the trash can situation, a city spokesperson said a report would be forthcoming next month.
“City staff will submit a report at the July 7 meeting of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee providing an update on the condition of the bins compared to previous years and ongoing work to ensure that all bins across the city are cleaned in a timely manner. emptied and kept in good repair.”
This also seemed like a good time to find out what happened to all those high-tech automated public toilets that Toronto was about to get.
The city spokesperson said: “At this point, four automated public toilets are currently installed in Toronto and city officials are continuing to explore the feasibility of adding more under the agreement with Astral.”