Winnipeggers see trash pile up as pickup resources cut

A lack of city garbage cans near bus stops and green spaces is causing frustrations at city hall to pile up.

Community forced to clean up after frontline service 'cut quietly,' says Coun. Wyatt

Doug and Denise Gow walk around their Transcona neighbourhood almost every night, picking up garbage. The couple wants more garbage bins near bus stops and green spaces. (Samantha Samson)

A lack of city garbage cans near bus stops and green spaces is causing frustrations at city hall to pile up.

"It's indifference [on the] part of the public service as well as the mayor's Executive Policy Committee (EPC)," Coun. Russ Wyatt said. "The reduction of garbage cans is basically a cut in public services."

The Transcona city councillor said he's seen a reduction in the number of garbage cans not only in his ward, but across Winnipeg. The problem is that the city can't afford to pick up garbage from extra bins, even if someone else pays for them.

Wyatt said he found more than $2,000 from a community committee fund to pay for three new garbage cans earlier this year. But when he presented the money to public works, Wyatt said the department refused to put them out because the city doesn't have the resources to pick up the trash regularly.

Public service cut, neighbours pick up the slack

"The promise has always been made, never cut frontline services," Coun. Wyatt said. "I think this is one of these cuts that have been made quietly to make budget targets, and then all of a sudden we're seeing problems."

Doug and Denise Gow are seeing those problems firsthand.

The Transcona couple walks around their neighbourhood almost every night, filling two grocery bags full of trash. They said they'd pick up more if they had the opportunity to empty the garbage into cans during their walks.

"We can't carry five or six garbage bags every time we go out," Doug said. "I think the city has an obligation to look after some of this garbage, and I don't think it would be much of a cost to empty the garbage cans a couple times a week."

2,000 more garbage cans needed

While the Gows actively go out to pick up garbage, Tom Ethans said most Winnipeggers need a reminder not to litter in the first place.

"We know there's a great need for more containers out there, and people will use them if they're there," the executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg said. "We know there are blocks where there isn't one container on any of the four corners. That's bad because that makes people walk further and just drop the litter."

Ethans said his group has asked city hall for 1,500 to 2,000 garbage cans, but has gotten the same answer as Coun. Wyatt — there are not enough resources for pickup.

And that's unacceptable, according to Coun. Wyatt. He said he applauds the Gows and other community volunteers for picking up the city's slack, but it isn't a fair deal. He said he'll continue to press the issue at city hall, and hopes new members of the EPC might be more willing to hear this trash talk.

"Until the mayor and the EPC takes this seriously, this issue will not be addressed," Coun. Wyatt said. "That's what it comes down to."

With files from Information Radio