Talking trash: residents unimpressed with amount of littering in Sudbury

The melting snow is revealing some unpleasant surprises in Greater Sudbury this spring. As is typical at this time of year, garbage is littering the city's streets and sidewalks

City-wide Clean Up Blitz set for early May

The City of Greater Sudbury says littering is an ongoing problem, but that it can only try to educate residents since anti-littering bylaws are almost impossible to enforce on an individual basis. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

The melting snow is revealing some unpleasant surprises in Greater Sudbury this spring.

As is typical at this time of year, garbage is littering the city's streets and sidewalks — and some residents are taking notice.

"The sad part is when you're right beside a garbage can and you see trash everywhere," says Sudbury resident Bree Sauvé. "It's just really bad for the environment. Everything would be so much more beautiful if people just picked up after themselves."

Sudbury residents Skye Rainville and Bree Sauvé say they often see trash on the ground literally metres away from city garbage cans. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

Nelson Mujica Torres says he's also coming across plenty of rubbish along downtown sidewalks this spring. He's particularly on the lookout for what he calls "doggie business."

"You're going to find a lot of things you don't want to see, but unfortunately, it's there, so you've got to be careful," notes Mujica Torres.

He says, however, he tries to pick up any trash he does find along his way — even if it happens to be a mess left behind by someone else's dog.

"Everybody says, 'It's not my fault, I'm leaving it there.' I take responsibility. I say, I'm a human, and if I don't want to see it there, let me start by doing my part," explains Mujica Torres.

"It's not going to explode in my hands, it's not going to kill me. Why can't I just pick it up?"

'Everyone's responsibility'

Renée Brownlee is the City's manager of solid waste and administrative services.

She says littering doesn't seem to be "any worse or any better this year" but that "it's definitely an annual thing when we get the snow melt."

She explains the City will have teams of students and employees picking up garbage throughout the spring and summer.

It also has a handful of initiatives in the coming months to help counter the issue, including the volunteer-based Clean Up Blitz set for Saturday May 5th

But Brownlee says a greater change has to happen community-wide.

Cigarette butts were among the trash hiding in snowbanks this past winter and are now becoming visible on Sudbury sidewalks as the snow melts. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

"We're getting the word out there that it's not OK, it's not acceptable," says Brownlee. "Let's live in a clean city, and we're spending tax dollars on cleaning up this stuff, so if you want to save tax dollars, keep your litter in your car, keep in at home, keep it in your pocket until you find a garbage container."

Brendan Adair, the City's manager of security and bylaw services, explains that though littering is against the law, it's mostly enforced in cases of larger-scale dumping.

Still, he notes there are three bylaws that specifically address illegal waste and littering.

Those include the so-called "Stoop and scoop" bylaw under animal control; the clearing of yards bylaw; and the basic anti-littering law that makes it an offense to throw garbage on any type of property.

Adair says the fine for breaking the anti-littering law is $350 plus an $80 "victim fine surcharge."

"Whether it be fail to stoop and scoop, so picking up after an animal, or flicking a cigarette butts or throwing a cup out a window — whatever it is — there is the ability for a bylaw enforcement officer to effect a charge," says Adair.


Benjamin Aubé is a journalist based out of Sudbury. If you have a story you'd like to share, email him at