John Tory may have claimed an easy victory on election night, but the campaign trail wasn’t all accolades and acclaim for the incumbent mayor. Tory took heat from political rivals, the media, and concerned citizens about the city’s escalating state of disrepair after a long pandemic.
On Thursday, Tory made it clear that he’s heard those complaints and vowed to take immediate action, announcing a slew of new clean-up initiatives.
“I did hear some comments about this and had some very thoughtful discussions with residents about this (while campaigning) and I came back determined to try and meet their expectations,” he said.
“I did want to start to address it today to let the people know that we are on this.”
The immediate clean-up operations include:
- Graffiti blitz of public and private property
- Public litter bin blitz
- Construction zone blitz
- Clothing drop box blitz
- Problem pothole blitz
- Arena state of good repair audit
Tory said he met earlier Thursday with City Manager, Tracey Cook, and the City’s entire senior leadership team to assure the plans are executed and everyone is on board.
The three-term mayor said he has requested weekly updates on basic services to assure that the “necessary work is being done.”
“We can do better, we must do better, we will do better,” Tory said, while admitting that the demands of the pandemic led to some areas of the city being neglected.
“The pandemic upset … almost everything we had to deliver on,” he stressed.
Tory said a number of Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff were redeployed during the pandemic.
“You can’t do things like that …without it having some impact on other areas of government.”
I’m wholly committed to ensuring that @cityoftoronto improves its key nuts and bolts services. A city-wide blitz is currently underway to do so:
Litter bin blitz
Construction zone blitz
Drop box blitz
Arena state of good repair audit pic.twitter.com/0A2x376rTA
— John Tory (@TorontosMayor) October 27, 2022
Garbage bin contract being evaluated
Tory said he has requested legal advice on the city’s garbage contract with Astral Out of Home, which still has four more years on a 20-year deal.
“I’m not satisfied with the current situation when it comes to the litter bins on our streets,” he said, adding that the doors are frequently damaged and the bins are often overflowing.
“I want to know what changes we can legally make now,” he said. “And what the game plan is following the expiry of this contract.”
In the meantime, he said he’s called for an audit to determine how often the City’s 11,000 bins are emptied and repaired, saying the contractor is responsible for not only fixing broken bins, but regular cleaning and monitoring.
Tory said he personally finds the bins awkward to use, saying the foot pedals are often broken and “those very small openings almost force you to jam things in and stick your hand in there.”
RELATED: Toronto council calls for action on battered, broken and overflowing public garbage bins
The City’s lawyers are currently trying to determine the potential costs and consequences of exiting the contract early, although Tory said he’s not necessarily pushing to end the relationship and will first seek to “achieve improvement” to the existing deal.
The mayor has also heard a number of complaints about washrooms and water fountains at city parks. He said those issues will be addressed once the new council settles in.
“I assure you I’m on top of that,” he said.
“This is just the beginning,” Tory said of the City’s clean-up efforts. “But I think it was very important to send a very clear signal from the start before the new council has even taken office and I hope it sends the message to the public that a clean Toronto is an absolute priority.”