Toronto needs a 'spit shine' and April is the month to do it, city says

Although the temperatures don’t necessarily reflect it, spring has sprung, and Torontonians are seeing more than crocus shoots on the ground.

Multi-divisional city-wide 'spring cleanup blitz' begins this week

The centre median on Fort York Boulevard in CityPlace has become a magnet for garbage, some residents say. (Ieva Lucs/CBC)

Although the temperatures don't necessarily reflect it, spring has sprung, and Torontonians are seeing more than crocus shoots on the ground.

"I'm seeing a lot of dog poop," 11-year-old Rachel Lee said, wrinkling her nose in disgust.

"It's not a very pretty sight," her mom Samantha Lee said. Rachel and her mom spoke to CBC Toronto while out with brother Russell, nine, as they were walking their dog, Snoopy in Canoe Landing park in CityPlace.

'Pick up your dog poop and don't leave it on someone's yard, it’s not nice,' says Rachel Lee, 11, to her neighbours in CityPlace in downtown Toronto. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

Coffee cups, plastic bags, a pair of underwear and a nylon storage bag for an outdoor folding chair were just a few of the many items strewn in the bushes planted in the centre median along Fort York Boulevard, between Dan Leckie Way and Spadina Avenue.

"It's probably just a spring thing, but I am only noticing it this year," Samantha Lee said. "So I don't know if it's just an increase in people traffic here with the new condos opening."

Josh Binet just moved to CityPlace four months ago. He says he wants the city to clean up Canoe Landing Park. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

Indeed, condos line the boulevard from Fleet Street to Spadina Avenue. Two new schools, a community centre and two child-care facilities are slated to open up next year, adding more people — and trash — to the neighbourhood.

Josh Binet just moved to CityPlace four months ago, and says the streets around his condo are ready for a spring cleanup. "Honestly, the sooner the better, because I feel like it's just going to keep on piling up at this point."

City is beginning 2-week 'spring cleanup blitz'

This week marks the beginning of a multi-divisional "spring cleanup blitz" for the city, said Lisa Duncan, Toronto's acting director of collections litter operations. That's when workers get into the hard to reach corners of the city, like ravines.

"We're hoping in the next two weeks that people will see a big difference in what the community looks like, especially in the downtown core," Duncan told CBC Toronto, explaining that the snow melting early this winter combined with limited staff has made garbage in the streets especially conspicuous this spring. 

The city is beginning a two-week cleaning blitz, which means trash like these bins left near the Mimico GO station will be out of sight soon. (Dayna Gourley/CBC)

Duncan explained that Canoe Landing park's litter bins are serviced three times a week, and the bins on the road around CityPlace are emptied nightly. The garbage trapped in the bushes down the centre median has most likely been blown in by the wind, she said, and it will get cleaned up as part of the blitz.

And as of April 28, a full complement of new seasonal staff will start. These labourers will do "detail work" cleaning up garbage in green spaces. Another wave of hires, mostly students, will be made again at the end of May.

Residents asked to put a 'spit shine' on the city

April is the month the city also encourages the community to get into cleanup mode, and starting this coming Saturday in Scarborough- Rouge River and Parkdale-High Park, wards will take turns hosting a Community Environment Days event until the end of July.

Duncan describes it as a "drop-off depot." Anything that people don't want to throw in the garbage and that can't be recycled, like electronics, books, dishes, toys — " all kinds of things that people are looking for a home for."

Residents can even come pick up free compost, collected through the city's yard-waste program.

A dog owner in Mimico has ignored signs asking people to stoop and scoop. (Chris Langenzarde/CBC)

One of the most popular community events, attracting close to 200,000 volunteers, is the Community Cleanup Days, on April 20, 21 and 22. Schools, businesses and community groups come together each day to clean up public spaces.

"We have over 1,500 parks," said Mark Singh, the program manager for the city's environmental initiative, Live Green Toronto. "There just aren't enough staff resources available to keep all of these spaces clean 100 per cent of the time.

"We do ask residents of the city to come out and help us put a little bit of a spit-shine on the city, and get her looking beautiful again for the spring and summer months."