Reid McAlpine

Councillor Unionville Ward 3

…for a better Markham!

September 2020

Dear Neighbour,

I hope that, despite travel restrictions, you have been able to enjoy some time with your family and away from work and concern about the pandemic this summer. Of course, for some of us the financial hardships imposed by the lockdown remain significant. Donations to the Markham foodbank and other social service agencies are always welcome. Please continue to keep an eye out for your neighbours.

City council and our senior staff continue to wrestle with our 2020 budget while also planning for the long term, post-pandemic. In our last update from the treasurer we were projecting a $27M deficit for 2020 (of which $10M is spending financed from property taxes). Since then approximately $6M has been allocated to Markham by the federal and provincial governments to assist with our finances. We also have very significant reserve funds to see us through (though eventually we will need to restore those reserves.) And spending and service cuts and postponements are being implemented. A new financial update will be presented to council in September.

Three important financial decisions were made this past week:

1. Council approved a new 8-year waste collection contract with Miller Waste, after a competitive tendering process. Waste collection is the city’s single largest service contract and the tender was the first Markham has ever issued for this service. It may be interesting to some people to know that, while tendering was the right approach in any event, the process was required by the terms of Canada’s new free trade agreement with the European Union. In fact a Spanish company — Ferrovial, a part owner of the 407 — was one of the bidders. In the end Miller won over GFL with the highest ranked (in terms of service) and second lowest cost bid. The cost of the contract is up approximately 20% over the 2 one-year extensions of the previous contract. The total cost over 8 years is estimated at approximately $104M, plus the cost of servicing new homes and condo buildings built over that time.

Unfortunately it is hard to pin down the exact cost of the contract, in that under provincial law the blue box program will be taken over by the “stewards” (the industries who produce the things we throw away) at some point during the life of the contract. The contract and the services it covers are structured to allow a smooth a transition to the stewards. The main thing you may notice is that, beginning in September 2021, blue box materials will be picked up in one truck and organic / green bin waste and garbage will be picked up together in a second truck. You will see two trucks on your street every week.

There will be no impact on yard waste pickup or other services. In fact there will be some improvements, including the pickup of old porcelain toilets and sinks for recycling, in the same way that appliances are currently picked up for a small fee.

Here are links to the complete waste management staff report and the summary presentation.

For the balance of the September newsletter visit September Newsletter.

See past newsletters