Keep Guelph Services Public
Guelph City Council is reviewing whether or not to privatize curbside solid waste collection. Don’t let council make a decision we’ll all regret.
What is happening?
The City of Guelph is reviewing whether to privatize your solid waste collection. Studies have shown that private solid waste collection leads to poorer environmental performance, higher rates of customer complaints and rising costs over time. In fact, many cities in Canada have recently brought back public solid waste, at great expense, following years of substandard service.
We are asking you to tell city council not to make this mistake. Privatizing solid waste collection may look like a cost-saving solution in the short-term, but we have seen from other cities in Canada that this is not true.
What can I do?
Check out our list of resources to learn about the benefits of public services.
Read the FAQ section to learn more about how privatizing solid waste collection will impact the City of Guelph.
We are asking you to tell city council not to make this mistake. Privatizing solid waste collection make look like a cost-saving solution in the short-term, but we have seen from other cities in Canada that this is not true.
Sign the petition
On September 18, Council will consider options for the future of solid waste services in Guelph. Though a decision has not been made, I would like to voice my opposition to privatizing the city’s solid waste collection, sorting, and processing services.
The public sector track record on solid waste is clear. City-delivered solid waste services are accountable to city residents and better able to meet environmental goals. Private solid waste companies answer only to shareholders.
Private sector companies often promise savings to the city, but these initial savings are usually achieved by imposing poor working conditions on workers, as detailed by the city Auditor General, and by a reduction in environmentally conscious practices. Over time costs often rise as services levels decline. This has lead to a number of cities actually contracting solid waste services back in-house, after failed experiments with privatization. This can often come at great expense to tax payers.
Instead of making a short-sighted decision that we will all come to regret, I urge you to keep Guelph’s solid waste services green, reliable and accountable – keep them public.
Why is the city considering privatizing solid waste collection? Isn’t it cheaper for a private company to collect curbside waste?
This is often the biggest selling point for paying a private company to do curbside collection. While it is often true that the private services are cheaper on paper, the savings largely come from cutting corners on services and diversion practices that reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Savings are also found by paying less than a living wage to solid waste collectors. Private companies tend to low-ball their initial price in order to win the contract, then over time the costs get higher and the services are reduced in order to increase profit margins. Remember, the primary goal of any private company is to make as much money as possible. Their commitment is not to quality public services. If a city that had privatized their services eventually wants to bring it back – as many have done in Canada – this will come at a great expense to residents.
The city is currently exploring the possibility of privatizing solid waste collection through a “service review.” We believe that it is important to evaluate the decision about privatization from a long-term perspective based on the experiences of other cities across Canada. Even if privatizing would save the city some money in the short term, we must also consider other issues such as the environment, public accountability and the economic impacts of replacing good jobs with low wage work. These perspectives need to be part of the conversation right from the beginning.
What if we hired one of the environmentally conscious waste companies? Wouldn’t they be better for the environment?
There are many private solid waste companies that like to put “Green” or “Enviro” in their title, but this is simply branding. Their focus is, and always will be, on their bottom line. When it comes to the choice between more profits and taking the extra time to make sure that as much of our waste as possible does not end up in landfill then they will always choose profits. Read the Toronto Environmental Alliance’s report on the effectiveness of solid waste diversion practices in Scarborough.