Manitoba

Melting snow reveals ugly mess of garbage as city gears up for spring cleaning

As spring temperatures slowly melt the mounds of snow around the city, an ugly truth about our streets is revealing itself: garbage, and lots of it.

Take Pride Winnipeg! currently working on litter index to identify trouble spots

What lies beneath

4 years ago
Duration 1:35
Melting snow reveals ugly mess of garbage as city gears up for spring cleaning.

As spring temperatures slowly melt the mounds of snow around the city, an ugly truth about our streets is revealing itself: garbage, and lots of it.

Take Pride Winnipeg! is halfway through their spring litter index. The group covers about 500-600 kilometres of streets to identify areas that are in need of a spring cleaning.

"It gives us an opportunity to then tell community groups, school groups, businesses and individuals, where they should go out to pick up litter and where they can make the most difference," said Tom Ethans, executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg!
Garbage is strewn across this vacant lot at the corner of St. Matthews Avenue and St. James Street. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"It makes me sad that there's still people out there littering," he said.

Ethans said streets throughout the city are given a number rating from one to four — one means free from litter, while a four will need several hours of work to clean up. 

A vacant property at the northwest corner of St. Matthews Avenue and St. James Street has been marked down as a four.
Tom Ethans, left, and St. James-Brooklands-Weston Coun. Scott Gillingham, right, took a look at one of the city's worst spots for litter that has piled up over the winter. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

"This area is a four, this is one of the worst areas in the city of Winnipeg," he said.

The vacant lot is littered with cups and bottles and plastic bags.

Ethans says Omand's Creek along Empress Street is also notoriously bad.

"There's some streets that are just terrible again this year, it seems to be the same streets a lot of years, this is the second year in a row that [St. Matthews and St. James] is really bad," said Ethans.

"People have to be more diligent, they have to start caring about our city and province a lot more than they do."

City spring cleanup will begin once it warms up

St. James-Brooklands-Weston Coun. Scott Gillingham, says while he hasn't received any complaints about the property yet, he and other councillors usually begin to hear complaints about problem properties around this time of year.

"All the garbage that's accumulated in the snow over the winter, once the snow melts it becomes evident all across our city just how much garbage is on the streets," said Gillingham.

"It's disappointing to see because we are a city that takes pride in ourself," he said.

Gillingham encourages people to clean up areas around their own properties, and if anyone notices a spot that's particularly bad to lodge a complaint with 311 or with their councillor.

"Worst-case scenario where the property owner for some reason just refuses to clean up the property, the city can initiate a cleanup of the property and the cost of that cleanup gets put on the property owners bill," he said.
Take Pride Winnipeg! hopes to see businesses and community groups help clean up litter that has collected over the winter months. (Holly Caruk/CBC)

Gillingham said he'd contact bylaw officers to make them aware of the issue, and work with Ethans to co-ordinate a cleanup effort.

The city says cleaning of sand and debris on roadways and boulevards usually begins around mid-April, when temperatures are consistently above zero degrees.

"Temperatures need to be above zero because water is used for dust control for the sweeping operation, and it will form ice on the street if it's too cold," said a city spokesperson in an email.

"Boulevards must be free of snow and relatively dry before boulevard sweeping can begin." 

About 300 sweepers, trucks, water trucks and tractor mounted brooms will be used for the cleanup operation.

Ethans says any community groups or businesses who would like to help out and do a cleanup can contact Take Pride and be supplied with bags, gloves, and litter-pickers.

now