MRC PONTIAC & PONTIAC – Both the Municipality of Pontiac and MRC Pontiac have had to resort to a Plan B for waste management after the company that held their contracts, Tom Orr Cartage (TOC), failed to fulfil its mandate because of mechanical and labour issues. Former employees have reported quitting because of unsafe equipment and the resulting stress.
Although TOC’s contract was only due to end next spring, the MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors resolved to launch an early call to tender at their June meeting in hopes of finding a replacement by August 16 (see page 12). Earlier this year, mayors complained of un-collected and overflowing bins in their municipalities as well as unreturned or avoided calls.
“They’ve had challenges, [which weren’t helped] by all of the flooding debris, but they’ve received some help from other local businesses to keep the garbage moving,” said MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller. She said she met with the company twice in the last month, but wouldn’t disclose any details.
In the Municipality of Pontiac, several residents attended their council’s regular meeting in May to complain about erratic garbage collection, and having to place their bins at the curbside, bring them in at night, and put them back out the next morning for days, even weeks, before the bins were finally picked up.
After a “number of months” of problems, according to Mayor Joanne Labadie, Location Martin Lalonde (LML) was subcontracted in early May to complete TOC’s three-year contract, which finished at the end of May. They were afterwards given an emergency short-term contract to continue for as long as needed, which Labadie said bought the municipality time to go to tender to find a
permanent contractor. Labadie said the early termination was a mutual decision between the municipality and TOC.
With the end of TOC’s contract nearing, the Municipality of Pontiac had considered extending it for another year, but the company’s performance made the decision easy.
Former employee speaks out
Clarendon resident Brian Williams, who worked for TOC for five years, said frequent breakdowns have been the norm at the business because of old equipment (little newer than 2010, he said) and financial troubles that hinder necessary repairs.
“Ninety-nine percent of the employees worked there because it was close to home,” said Mr Williams.
Williams said losing a wheel off the company’s 1987 truck he was driving in front of McDowell Elementary School in Shawville was the straw that broke the camel’s back for him. Another truck caught fire and burned along Highway 148 earlier this year.
“When I was out in the community, people would stop me and ask, ‘Is your company going under? And, ‘When will my garbage be picked up?’ Businesses asked ‘Can you talk to them, because I still haven’t been paid?’ It was embarrassing,” Williams told the Journal. He added that he was not privy to the company’s figures on any of this.
Unpaid bills at the Lachute dumping facility further restricted the movement of garbage, Williams added. Lachute is the final repose for un-recyclable waste.
Tom Orr Cartage refused to comment on the situation.