It’s always helpful to know the rules. My husband is a referee and he will tell you this is so. The bylaws for Littering and Cleaning and Clearing are defined in Toronto Municipal Code 548: 548-3. Littering and depositing waste prohibited. No person shall throw, place or deposit or permit or cause to be thrown, placed or deposited any waste on any land not including buildings, within the City, including ponds, lakes, rivers and watercourses, without the consent of the owner or occupant of the property.
548-5. Cleaning and clearing. The owner of land on which waste has been thrown, placed, dumped or deposited shall immediately clean and clear the waste from the land.
These bylaws illustrate a recent situation regarding the state of the grounds at Leaside Memorial Community Gardens. Driving by, I saw a large, flattened La Rocca cake box and numerous ditched Tims coffee cups. As an aside, did you know that Tim Hortons, Nestlé, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Coca-Cola account for 40 per cent of identifiable trash?
I couldn’t help pulling into the parking lot for a quick spot clean. However, the overwhelming amount of garbage nestled in bushes and under trees prompted me to send the following email to arena staff. Some person(s) was breaking Bylaw 548-3 by littering. And the owner of the land was breaking Bylaw 548-5 by not cleaning and clearing it immediately.
“Good morning! I’m writing about the litter situation in the grassy areas surrounding the Leaside Arena. This morning I did a bit of a cleanup from the entrance to the Millwood corner lights. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time or garbage bags to complete the total perimeter. It was pretty disgusting. Enough Tim Hortons coffee cups to sink a ship – he would be very disappointed to see his legacy has created this situation. And numerous, other assorted riff raff. I’m not sure who is creating this problem – users of the arena, construction workers or the general public, but it does need addressing as it a real eyesore and an embarrassment to our community. As always, I am happy to help. …I look forward to your response.”
Within an hour I received this from the general manager: “Thank you for bringing the garbage situation to my attention, and I will have staff address the cleanliness in the next couple of days, as I do require additional staff to clean the surrounding grass and gardens. As you can well imagine, the two construction towers do cause a majority of the mess in the perimeter of the parking lot. My staff are picking up litter weekly from the parking lot but do not push the boundaries to the aforementioned areas. Once the snow melts in the spring our lawn care company handles that area. I will have staff be more attentive while there is no snow on the ground.”
I replied: “Thank you for your response, the information and your action. It is totally unfair that your staff need to clean up other people’s litter and thank you for doing it. I also addressed the email to Baghai Development Limited. Perhaps the company can speak with their crews and help with cleanup.”
I also took the opportunity to reach out to the board, who are responsible for the facility on behalf of the community and the City of Toronto. I was heartened by the response from chairman Jeff Dover, who thanked me for caring enough to bring the topic to their attention. He said: “The Gardens is a community landmark and source of pride for Leaside. As a result, we encourage all users to be mindful of this and treat the facility as such. We also would like to remind our user groups and the community at large to join us in April when we participate in the ‘Clean Toronto Together’ initiative, an event where everyone’s effort will truly help make a difference.”
The cost of litter is staggering. Robert Orpin, director of collection operations, told CityNews, “If nobody littered in the city, that’s potentially $25 million in savings.” Think of how many people could be fed and housed, how much infrastructure repaired, how many recreational facilities refurbished, and so on.
Leaside is our home and we all need to take good care of it. I don’t know how to stop people from littering. But I do know that if each of the 10,000 doors in M4G that receive Leaside Life picked up just one piece of litter a day, our neighbourhood would soon be spotless!