Taxes, TTC And Garbage Trouble: The Final Days Of David Miller

From overflowing garbage bins to stranded TTC riders, David Miller’s second term as mayor was hardly a clean sweep. With just days left until he hands over the keys to City Hall here’s a look back at some of his most memorable moments.

See Part One here.

November 2006:

Miller is elected to his second term as mayor on November 13. He easily defeated candidates Jane Pitfield and Stephen LeDrew, winning 57 per cent of the vote.

June 2007:

Miller and TTC chair Adam Giambrone announce plans for Transit City. The project is a joint effort with the provincial government and promised to:

  • Extend the Yonge subway into Vaughan
  • Make GO trains run faster and more frequently
  • Expand the light rail system as far as Hamilton
  • Get more cars off the road

The McGuinty government initially pledges $9.5 billion dollars, but in 2010 the premier ordered the pace of the payments and construction slowed on the Sheppard, Finch, Eglinton and the Scarborough RT lines.

Miller fired back against McGuinty and asked riders to contact their Members of Provincial Parliament to express their discontent.

“On June 15th 2007, when he announced his funding and support for this program, he said we need to build it now. Now. Not in 2020, not sometime in the future. Not in 30 years. Now. Today,” Miller said.

August 2007:

Facing a $575 million operating budget shortfall, Miller and city manager Shirley Hoy make dozens of cuts to public services while imposing several new taxes.

Areas that saw services slashed included garbage and recycling, snow plowing, pothole repair, Toronto’s public libraries, public health, emergency medical and fire services. A hiring freeze in all city divisions was put in place, with the exception of those positions that are deemed essential under legislated requirements

Miller argued he had no choice, stating “I’m not thinking about political consequences,” he vows. “I’m thinking about the city … This is going the wrong way, but because of the financial position the city is in, we have no choice.”

April 2008:

Unionized TTC employees walk off the job at 12:01am April 26. The main issues of contention between the union and the city are wages, injury compensation, and outsourcing. Amalgamated Transit Union president Bob Kinnear had promised 48 hours notice prior to any job action, which was not given. Miller lashed out, calling the strike unacceptable.

“This strike action is unacceptable and unnecessary…Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 promised the people of Toronto 48 hours’ notice of any strike action,” Miller said. “I spoke to Mr. Kinnear earlier this evening and asked on behalf of Torontonians and TTC riders that he honour this commitment. He refused. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

The mayor called on the provincial government to enact back-to-work legislation to end the strike, which it did. By Sunday evening, April 27 the majority of service had been restored.

For many, the strike was the beginning of hostile relations between the TTC and the general public.

June 2009:

The Toronto Civic Employees Union goes on strike at midnight, June 22. The main issues were job security, seniority and the banking of sick days.

While garbage collection was the main service affected by the strike, other services included:

  • Parks and recreation
  • City-run daycare facilities
  • Municipal licensing- building and signage permits
  • Public health- restaurant and city clinic inspections
  • EMS- while priority calls were assured, ambulance services were only running at around 75 per cent.

The strike both crippled and outraged the city. Miller was criticized over the temporary dump sites and how long it took to get the six-week strike resolved.

The strike garners Toronto lots of bad press, from a Macleans cover story to a U.S. travel advisory.

When a deal was finally reached, current employees were given the option to keep their sick days while new hires won’t get that right. And workers were given a 6 per cent raise over three years.

Miller was criticized for caving in to union demands, but he defended the agreement.

“Both union locals were saying they wanted parity with the police, which was, when you include benefit increases, almost 12 per cent over three years. Both of them were saying they wouldn’t even discuss the sick bank,”

September 2009:

David Miller announces he won’t run in the upcoming mayoral election, saying he wants to spend more time with his family.

“After my election as mayor, the pressures on me as a father and husband became immense,” he said.

Miller went on to endorse his deputy mayor Joe Pantalone.

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