Participation in Thunder Bay neighbourhood clean-ups soars

Businesses, community groups and schools in Thunder Bay have already held more Spring Up to Clean Up events this year than they did all last season, according to EcoSuperior, and the campaign is only half finished.

But litter and illegal dumping are still a problem in the city

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church is one of more than 200 businesses, schools and organizations to participate in this year's Spring Up to Clean Up campaign in Thunder Bay. (Ecosuperior)

More businesses, community groups and schools in Thunder Bay, Ont., have registered to hold Spring Up to Clean Up events this year than they did all last season, according to EcoSuperior — and the campaign is only half finished.

The 22nd annual neighbourhood trash collection effort kicked off May 1 and runs until June 9;  more than 200 groups have so far signed on, said Shannon Costigan, EcoSuperior's project supervisor.

"It makes me feel great that so many people want to contribute to making a beautiful Thunder Bay," Costigan said.

One group taking part in Spring Up to Clean Up is the Carpenters Union Local 1669, whose building is located in Innova Park, where discarded sofas, box springs and bags of garbage litter the less-inhabited areas.   

'We work here'

Someone threw out their Christmas trash in Innova Park. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

"We work here. We have to look at it ... and there are a lot of people who work in the area who like to walk around during lunch breaks and coffee and whatever, so it's prettier when there's not garbage to look at," said administrative assistant Julie-Ann White, who coordinates the clean-up for the local. 

The garbage problem has improved since the carpenters' first clean-up last year, she added. 

"There were bumpers on just about every corner," she said of the previous year's discoveries, "and just boxes and bags and miscellaneous garbage."

Despite the efforts of groups like the Carpenters Union, a tour of the city Tuesday by CBC Thunder Bay revealed much trash continues to litter the city.

Discarded coffee cups, used disposable diapers 

Coffee cups and drink containers litter the ditch near Tim Horton's on Oliver Road. 'We do not like it whatsoever,' manager Michele Melanson told CBC, adding the staff walk the property twice a day to pick up trash. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

On Baffin Street on McKellar Island, an old mattress, the remains of a discarded television set, a broken mirror and countless bags of household trash were strewn across the roadside.

Near the entrance to Baseball Central, torn black garbage bags spilled used disposable diapers all over the grass and weeds.

And in ditches near the Tim Horton's on Golf Links Road, used coffee cups and drink containers accumulated on rocks.

"We do not like it whatsoever," manager Michele Melanson told CBC. "We have garbage cans placed outside our building in order for [customers] to dump them in there."

Staff walk the area around the store morning and night to collect garbage, Melanson added, and they ask customers not to litter.  

Beyond that, there is little they can do, she said.    

A tour of Thunder Bay trash

It's unfortunate that the city still has to deal with issues like litter and illegal dumping, Costigan said, and it's unlikely the city can stop it completely. But campaigns like Spring Up to Clean Up do help, she said. 

"It helps to change the attitudes about [how] people feel about their neighbourhoods," she said, "So the more people that are putting effort into cleaning up, the less likely people are to detract from that."