I love to walk and I have a passion for litter.
My mornings begin with a quick ‘litter walk’. Grocery bag in hand, I set out to pick up whatever my section of Rumsey Road and the Trace Manes playground has to offer that day. I chat with fellow neighbours, library and tennis court staff.
As a community we take ownership of our little piece of Leaside and are proud that our lawns, driveways, sidewalks and roadways are spotless. We like the park to be safe and clean for parents, caregivers and children. The ‘litter walk’ takes about 10 minutes a day, and I consider it time well spent.
My next excursion is a more leisurely ‘errand walk’ out to Bayview. I love that I can easily walk to get my hair cut, pick up groceries, do my banking, pick up a birthday gift or meet a friend for coffee. Although it’s not my intention to pick up litter, I can’t ignore it either. So my walk goes something like this: I cut through the park, pick up litter and deposit it in the park trash bin. Turning left onto McRae, I continue my pickup and use the bin on the southeast corner of McRae and Millwood. Heading west on Millwood, I scoop up any items stuck in the church hedge and deposit them in the bins behind the building. I continue along, picking up, and make a deposit in the first bin I see on Bayview. The ‘errand walk’ has a lot of stops and starts and takes more time than a ‘regular walk’. In my quest to keep the neighbourhood clean I consider it time well spent.
Last Wednesday I arrived on Bayview about 11:00 a.m. and was taken aback by the unsightly mess. The street looked like a dump site. There were garbage bins obstructing the sidewalk, newspapers and cardboard boxes strewn about, bags of litter propped against overflowing city waste receptacles and trash in storefront entrances. I’ve never seen Bayview looking so bad. In fact it was so off-putting I quickly did my banking and headed directly home. No browsing or shopping as I had planned. And no litter-picking as the task was just too daunting.
I debated contacting the BIA. I know they are working hard and I didn’t want to seem critical. But if I found Bayview unwelcoming, surely others were feeling the same way. And wouldn’t it be helpful for them to know so they could remedy the situation? Eventually, I sent an email and received the following response:
“Tuesday night is garbage pickup on Bayview. We organize a couple of groups to help keep the community clean. The Bayview Pixies were created and are funded by our Bayview Leaside B.I.A. This volunteer position is more focused on sustainable planting than street cleanup, but they work tirelessly at beautifying our strip and creating a positive environment. We also organize a street cleanup once or twice a year. This is a larger cleanup by BIA members and community volunteers to encourage keeping our environment clean.”
I appreciated their response and the explanation of their group initiatives, which I was aware of. However I didn’t really see how this approach was going to solve the issue of daily litter, especially after Tuesday night garbage pickup. I replied, suggesting that each merchant, as a part of the BIA community, needed to take ownership of his or her storefront section of Bayview and spend a few minutes each day cleaning up.
I’ve seen staff at the Olive Oil Emporium out sweeping, as well as George Chow, owner of Peaches & Green. I stopped to thank him one day and he commented, “I guess it’s kind of old-fashioned.” Maybe so, but it is definitely necessary and appreciated. Time well spent if the BIA wants to create the inviting and welcoming shopping experience they say consumers deserve.
Here’s what the BIA replied to me recently: “Thank you for your suggestions. I will be sure to share them with the board.” There is good news. I’ve been out to Bayview several times since and am delighted to report that the street has looked freshly swept and pretty much spotless each time. I’m not sure who is hard at work – the BIA, the merchants, the Pixies or City of Toronto staff. Please know your efforts are noticed and appreciated!
To all of you who thank me and tell me how nice I am, I usually say “you’re welcome.” What I really want to say is: “You can be nice, too.” If we all picked up just one random piece of litter each day…well, just imagine…definitely time well spent.