Edmonton revises litter cleanup plan due to COVID-19

Edmonton’s community leagues will be key players in the city’s spring cleanup efforts this year as they take on the role of distributing litter kits directly to volunteers, the city said Friday. 

Edmonton's Capital City Clean Up launches this week with a twist

Edmonton's Capital City Clean Up gets underway this week with 160 community leagues coordinating this year's volunteers. (Kory Siegers/CBC)

Edmonton's community leagues will be key players in the city's spring cleanup efforts this year as they take on the role of distributing litter kits directly to volunteers.

The city is leaning on the leagues and business improvement areas to help hand out litter kits for its Capital City Clean Up. 

The kits are usually picked up at recreation centres and libraries each spring,  but with these facilities closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city had to come up with an alternative. 

Tanya Laughren, spokesperson for the Capital City Clean Up, said leagues have "graciously" agreed to collect pre-made kits. 

"They are acting as the middleman between ourselves and the citizen in order to get the kits out to as many people as we can," Laughren said Friday. "We are thankful to have them as always and hopefully we reach as many citizens as possible." 

Each of the city's 160 community leagues is getting five kits to start. 

After the first five kits are used, residents can request more from their league. 

"The league can contact us directly and we will figure out distribution from there," Laughren said. "So just trying to get started but we are looking at doing thousands throughout this summer as we normally do." 

Litter kits include a garbage grabber, small and large garbage bags, gloves and a pamphlet outlining safety tips for collecting while complying with COVID-19 restrictions. 

The city is not limiting the number of volunteers who can pick up at a given time but it is expected that people will follow guidelines set out by Alberta Health Services, which prohibit group cleanups.
The city is asking community leagues and business improvement groups to hand out Capital City Clean Up kits this year as recreation centres and libraries are closed. (City of Edmonton)

Some groups, like the Downtown Edmonton Community League, are ready to participate and have their own supplies as well as kits remaining from previous years. 

Chris Buyze, president of DECL, said the league is enhancing its cleaning protocols and having more hand sanitizer available. 

The DECL recommends volunteers bring their own non-surgical masks to wear during the cleanup. 

Buyze said May 3 is the DECL's main cleanup day. 

"That's the day when we collect the most trash and sweep sidewalks and get the gravel into the gutters," he said. "We try to tackle as much of our community as we possibly can."

He noted that a lot of people — likely more than usual — will be using the park areas in the river valley this spring and summer. 

"There's going to be a bit more effort maybe from community groups required to help clean this year."

Buyze said he is worried how the river valley is going to get cleaned up this year, given that the city has cancelled the annual River Valley Clean Up. 

A city spokesperson told CBC News that more information would be coming on that.

Safety tips

A tip sheet outlining AHS guidelines includes this advice:

  • Maintain a physical distancing of two metres more from others
  • Wear gloves
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Disinfect the litter grabber or any other tool used before and after use
  • Secure and dispose of all litter and garbage bags in appropriate disposal locations

Every year, the city asks volunteers who see needles or other hazardous materials to call 311. 

Laughren said this year that advice is being extended to other items such as masks.

"Even if you're out and about and you see a piece of litter that you're not so sure of, or a needle, or hazardous debris, you're welcome to call 311 like you would have in the past, in order to have assistance to clean that up."



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