Grade 4 student thinks local garbage can layout is trash
Jake Hultin, 9, is tired of having to carry his puppy's poop so far
Jake Hultin doesn't think he's asking for much. He just wants a nearby spot to drop his dog's poop.
"I don't really like carrying his poop. It's not that fun," said the Charleswood resident, 9.
So Jake wrote a letter to his city councillor, asking for three more garbage cans in his neighbourhood — all along busy residential streets. The thought came to him while he was taking a walk with his five-year-old brother, his dad, and their eight-month-old golden doodle Maui last fall.
"I wanted to have more garbage cans because I was carrying his poop," said Jake, gesturing to his puppy. "There wasn't enough, and I had just started walking. I was probably like 500 metres from one, so I need more garbage cans to place it."
Jake says the nearest garbage can from his house is "at least five streets," and he doesn't want to throw garbage on the ground.
"It can affect the environment," he said. "Littering just doesn't help at all."
Jake's letter reached Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood), who's bringing the issue to city hall on Wednesday. Klein said this isn't the first time he's asked the city for more bins.
"I usually get one or two calls a month asking for garbage cans to be put somewhere because garbage is building at corners or near schools," he said. "All of them go unanswered. All of them are ignored."
City scan shows 23 areas that need more cans
As it turns out, Jake is on to something. City staff looked into this issue months ago.
There are 5,596 garbage cans maintained by the city — 151 along pathways near parks, 3,915 within parks and 1,530 along right-of-ways or at other public spaces, according to a report to the city's infrastructure and public works department in December.
It states Winnipeg's standard is placing garbage cans within 500 metres of each other. Last year, staff scanned the entire city and found 23 areas that didn't meet that criterion.
As a policy, the city only adds new garbage cans to new developments as they're built, according to a public works spokesperson. To change that, city staff recommended council put aside $237,500 in 2022's budget to fill the gaps, and add new garbage cans to established neighbourhoods in need.
But council said no.
"I think it may be a bit short-sighted," said David Hultin, Jake's dad.
"I understand there are budget pressures. I understand that there's lots of different asks and needs in a city … but if we are making a commitment to the environment — and we do talk about that quite a bit — then finding $200,000 and change probably shouldn't be as hard as it might be."
More cans aligns with city's climate change plans
In his motion to the Assiniboine community committee, Klein is asking for the three garbage cans, and for the bill to come out of the city's existing budget.
Klein says he's asked the city for extra garbage cans for his ward before — even offering to pay for them out of discretionary funds. The December report also states adding more garbage cans to established neighbourhoods would align with the city's climate action plan.
"We need to start putting that talk into action," Klein said.
"Garbage around the neighbourhoods is a problem, but we push that off to other organizations to take care of when we already have a truck that's driving around the ward, emptying the garbage cans," he said.
"To me, it's not that hard to add a couple of more locations. Will it cost a little bit more? Yeah, a minuscule amount more. But it helps keep our properties clean and help keeps our boulevards clean or neighbourhoods clean. Isn't that what we want?"
In an email, a spokesperson for public works said the city would review any new garbage can locations to see whether it's justified, or whether they could move an existing bin to that desired location.
The city is also developing a "geographical information-based system" to track how much Winnipeggers use the existing garbage cans, according to the spokesperson. If Winnipeggers are seeing overflowing bins, they're directed to call 311.
Hultin says he and his wife are "incredibly proud" of Jake, no matter what happens at city hall. If anything, he says, this is a good lesson for Jake in how cities work.
But Jake wants results. If city councillors decide against his request, he's got a message for them:
"We still need more garbage cans. It doesn't matter what you say. We still need more."