Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the city has learned a lesson and plans to do better handling garbage at Ottawa Race Weekend after complaints about piles of waste being left throughout the downtown core overnight.
"Well I saw lots of garbage bins overflowing — there's no question about that — all throughout the area where the race weekend was. And it's certainly a lesson for us that we have to work more closely with the organizers to make sure we have bigger bins," Watson said in an interview with Ottawa Morning radio host Hallie Cotnam on Monday.
"There's no question that seeing these piles of garbage take away from the clean, green image we have of the city," he said. "This will be a lesson learned and we've got to do a better job next time."
Plastic water bottles, thermal blankets, disposable cups, banana peels and other litter were piled high in garbage bins throughout downtown Ottawa over the weekend and on Monday morning. Clean-up crews prioritized main roads.
Watson said regular city bins can't handle the extra waste at big events. Bigger bins, and more of them, should be brought in, he said. He also said recyclable items should be separated into recycling containers, and that compost bins might be a good idea if organizers are handing out bananas after races.
"I saw a lot of those silver warm-up blankets strewn across Elgin Street. I think everyone has a responsibility not to just toss it on the ground," Watson added.
"But I think by and large most of the runners are pretty respectful, and a lot of them come from this city. I don't think that's really the problem; I think it was just the lack of capacity that we had on site."
Ottawa Race Weekend president John Halvorsen said he was pleased with the cleanup speed for the 40 kilometres of roads along the racing route, but said he was "disappointed" with the garbage at City Hall and Confederation Park.
"I was actually a little disappointed with the status down here at City Hall," Halvorsen said, "... but it was a very busy weekend. We had probably about 100,000 people down here at City Hall and the Confederation Park area, either running or watching, so it's certainly not unreasonable to think there would be a fair amount of garbage. But it's progressing now outside.
"It's a challenge to manage all of this but it's definitely an area we should be looking at, for sure," he said.