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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

New garbage bins and newspaper boxes on T.O.’s streets

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It must be summer vacation at One Yonge Street because the Star is reporting today on the death of the MegaBins (Spacing reported this development back on June 28th). Nonetheless, the story is getting out to the greater public, so I won’t complain.

Also of note, BlogTO spotted a new waste disposal contraption on College Street. Spacing has put a call into city staff to explain where this came from (I like it, but want to know more of the facts). Spacing editors have noticed beige plastic bins with the City’s logo have appeared around the city over the last few months, but this blue baby is a new sight to us. And as a member of the Roundtable on a Beautiful City, I am usually privy to hearing about new street furniture before they hit the street.

The sad thing about this situation is that Toronto could have hundreds of the smaller Ecobins all over the city by now if council members had listened to a staff report back in the summer of 2004 which recommended that the Megabins NOT BE TRIED out. Instead, we had to test the Monster bins with ads, which has not gotten us any closer to fixing our waste problems so clearly evident on our streets. It is amazingly frustrating to think back to the Works Committee meeting where councillors Pitfield, De Baeremaeker, Thompson and Del Grande (none of whom have experience in waste management) dismissed the Solid Waste department’s report because the politicians wanted to explore EUCAN’s ill-conceived revenue generation model. It makes you wonder what some of our civic leaders are thinking (or whom they are listening to) when they vote on these issues.

And the final surprise of the day is a test model of two super newspaper boxes at the corner of Yonge and Dundas (read about these boxes in previous Spacing Wire posts here and here). This is a test model put forward by the Downtown Yonge BIA and the publishing powerhouses with the City’s approval. The top box is for the paid dailies and the bottom photo is for the freebies. Personally, I approve of these boxes because it decreases the amount of commercial signage on our streets, while still making it clear to pedestrians the boxes’ primary function. Shawn Micallef posted a photo of a newspaper superbox is Chicago which could also be a good example for Toronto to follow.

PHOTOS: Blue bin from BlogTO, newspaper boxes by Melissa Goldstein



  1. The City has $300 000 in its budget for new public garbage and recycling bins. I’ve just assumed that they’ve finally chosen to spend it.

  2. New blue garbage/recycling bins also on Bloor in Little Korea. Thought for a moment I was hallucinating in the heat when I saw them…

  3. It sounds like from your post that you think the only problem with eucan bins is the advertising.

    Surely this is not the case?

    Did you mean instead that we could have had hundreds of smaller garbage receptacles (not Ecobins)?

    “The sad thing about this situation is that Toronto could have hundreds of the smaller Ecobins all over the city by now…”

    This would have been a disaster! The smaller Ecobins are TERRIBLE garbage bins. They were constantly observed overflowing, the recycling rate was abysmal and many were placed in such a way as to pose a danger to users.

    Please see photographs at:

  4. The new blue garbage bins on Bloor Street in Little Korea are a breath of fresh air, so to speak. I like them because they are what they are — garbage cans. They also remind me of another impressively elegant and uncomplicated waste management solution — the open-mouth plastic bag containers the TTC is deploying around the subway stations. Paris uses a similar approach with its sidewalk trash bins (although there’s no source separation). In all three cases, these objects function effectively because they haven’t been loaded down with all kinds of political/commercial/design baggage they can’t possibly carry. We know what they’re for. Seems simply, but for some reason, we’ve fostered this peculiar climate (bastard child of design and budget shortfalls) in which we expect very basic municipal objects to perform multiple tasks, and in the process the politicians lose sight of what they wanted them to accomplish in the first instance. The perils of over-analysis.

  5. From what I’ve seen the “Ecobins” and “Megabins” had the same trash capacity, just the Megabins were enourmous billboards.

    It would be nice to get some trash/recycling bins with ACTUAL capacity. (The old OMGWTF ones had good capacity, but the side-loading made them gross and covered in sludge.)

    I don’t like these new mega newspaper boxes. They lack character. Plus, since our city is a dreary gray for half the year, I would miss the assortment of colours the mass of old boxes had.

  6. Certainly there are capacity issues with the ecobins. But there is also some facts that need to be realized — the ecobins that staff recommended would have added a whack more of receptacles to the street. Some would’ve replaced the old OMG bins but most would have been added to the 4,000-plus silver boxes out there. So the overall capacity of the trash collection in Toronto would have been increased. We can all agree that would have been good. We can argue about the design.

    In hindsight, the ecobins aren’t too hot becuz of the capacity issues, but 1,500 of them would have been better than the 20 we currently have, and the 85 monster ones. If they were on the streets right now all we’d be discussing is how to create more capacity and not all the other crap about revenue generation and poor siting.

    Staff had recommended the City purchase the ecobins without any ads on them too.

    You have to realize that when this was proposed in summer 2004 there were options and the City chose the worst one. The damage could have been lessened if councillors had followed some common sense. It may nopt have been ideal, but we’d still be better off than we are today.

  7. Matt the Eucan Ecobins are designed to have advertising on them, just look at the slats on the sides. It’s just that Eucan would have proposed the advertising at a later date.

  8. “But there is also some facts that need to be realized — the ecobins that staff recommended would have added a whack more of receptacles to the street.”

    This is not what staff recommended. Staff recommended independently purchasing ad-free garbage bins through the tender process.


  9. I just got back from New York City, and it currently has a system of newspaper boxes like this in place and they’re great on the extremely cramped streets of Manhattan. But they are only in use in high traffic areas, and because of the nature of newspaper bins and American cash these boxes are less popular there (since a sunday New York Times would require 15 quarters, you just go to a store instead) its not like these boxes sprout up at every subway entrance as in Toronto. But in the end, I liked them. Now New York’s trash bins with no lids, no recycling, and infrequent emptying are a different story. Sure, no ads on them, but they are also large stinky rat attraction devices.

  10. Palmerston > No shit — obivously I understand that. At the time, the design of the bins were not in public view. And, like I wrote, staff suggested bins that would have no ads on them.

  11. I know the city has been consulting with groups representing people with disabilities, but i wonder if these newsboxes fit the guidelines for safe and accessible design — the protruding (un-rounded) corners stick out pretty far from the posts making cane users susceptible to bashing a knee or shin if their cane happened to miss one of the two skinny posts.
    i know this is a problem with lots of the existing street furniture (phone boxes, some bus shelters), but i thought that with all its work with disability groups the city would have made sure the design of this is better

  12. These blue bins are popping up all over the west side now. Yay!

  13. It’s a bit of a shame that the new newspaper boxes have ad space on the back, though the city drowning in various boxes was also a problem…

    I like the idea, but I’m also a little wary of who suddenly has control over newspaper distribution through this the-one-official-newspaper-outlet contraption that didn’t before? What if you’ve got 17 papers to house – which gets the boot?

  14. So, who gets to decide which papers are included in the ‘official’ newsboxes?