British Columbia

Don't leaf it too late: Vancouverites urged to get raking before rain arrives

There are about 150,000 street trees in Vancouver and, just like shovelling snow in the winter, it's up to residents to take care of the sidewalks in front of their properties.

Residents responsible for keeping sidewalks clear; city collecting bagged leaves this weekend

In Vancouver, there are approximately 150,000 street trees and 350,000 trees in parks, according to officials. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Vancouver's sunny fall streak is forecast to come to an end this week, and the city is urging residents to rake up the crunchy piles of leaves littering the streets before they become a soggy mess when the rains arrive.

There are about 150,000 street trees in Vancouver and, just like shovelling snow in the winter, it's up to residents to take care of the sidewalks in front of their properties.

"When they get wet, [the leaves] can be a slipping hazard," said Albert Shamess, director of waste management and resource recovery with the city.

In condos and apartment buildings, the responsibility falls on whoever usually does maintenance and landscaping.

Showers are expected on Tuesday night, with a more prolonged spell of rain beginning Wednesday night, according to Environment Canada.

Raking leaves into the streets can be fined up to $10,000. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Tree variation in Vancouver

Shamess said Vancouverites should not wait until all the leaves fall off the trees before pulling out their gardening tools.  

"That's an issue in Vancouver where we have so many different types of trees that all fall at different times," he told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

About 75 per cent of the trees in Vancouver are deciduous, leaf-bearing trees. 

Red oaks, tulip trees, ash and maples produce the most leaves in the city, with the latter being the most common tree in Vancouver — accounting for roughly 25 per cent of the city's trees.

"Rake them up, put them in paper bags and put them in your green bin," Shamess said of the leaves.

"Don't put them at the curb because they will plug up the storm drains and cause flooding."

An average of 5,000 tonnes of leaves are collected in Vancouver each year from 1,400 kilometres of city streets. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Raking or blowing leaves onto the street can lead to a fine of up to $10,000 under street and traffic bylaws.

Shamess also said not to put them in plastic bags — not even biodegradable ones — because they can't be processed.

The city collects leaves once a month until January, starting on the weekend of Oct. 27-28.

The green waste is sent to the landfill in Delta and composted.

Each year, the city also does street leaf-cleaning programs with sweepers and trucks and front-end loaders, collecting on average 5,000 tonnes of leaves. This year, street sweeping will begin Nov 8. and conclude in mid-December.

See the city map for dates in your area.

With files from The Early Edition.

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