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Mayor says privatizing city services, including Guelph Transit, has to be considered

'I think that unions can really speak so loudly in regards to this with a lot of fear, that it shuts down what could be a very good discussion on the topic'
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GuelphToday file photo

Mayor Cam Guthrie says the privatization of city services, including all or parts of Guelph Transit, is something the city has to look at.

City staff is just finalizing its service review of the city’s solid waste service and will begin a full service review of Guelph Transit starting early in 2018. That review will take roughly one year to complete.

The mayor said that privatization isn’t a dirty word when it comes to Guelph Transit.

“It may mean fleet service only. It may mean drivers. It may mean other aspects of a complete transit system,” said Guthrie, who got into a back-and-forth on Twitter Monday with some members of the public about the need to consider privatization when reviewing a service.

“Everything should be on the table and that same question should be on the table for all services, not just transit.”

He said people want efficient, effective and good services with accountability built in and at the end of the day they really don’t care if it’s private or public.

“I don’t think there is a fear of privatization at all. I think that unions can really speak so loudly in regards to this with a lot of fear, that it shuts down what could be a very good discussion on the topic.”

He said that’s the job of unions, but he said his job is to do what’s best for taxpayers and businesses of Guelph.

“I believe that the rhetoric from some of the leadership and some of the unions can be overboard and a lot of it is fear tactics. They don’t want to even have the conversation.”

He said he doesn’t blame unions for this. That’s their role.

“My role, as the mayor, is to provide mechanisms… if that means there has to be a little bit of conflict to get to the results that we need, then so be it.”

He pointed out that 50 per cent of Guelph’s specialized mobility transit service is already contracted out.

“But to immediately close the door to the discussion as to how best provide services, in fact does a disservice to the taxpayers, and I will not go down that road.

“I got elected based on my opinions, so I don’t shut my opinions down when I became mayor,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said that it’s important not to go into a service review with any pre-conceived notion of what the outcomes will be. But it’s also important not to dismiss any possibilities that lead to more effective and efficient service.

“It’s easy to sort of yell out the rhetoric. But people need to understand that my job is to make sure that we are providing the most effective and efficient services, period. That means asking the tough questions that the service review framework does.”


Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 20 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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