She wants a litter-free Leaside

Cheryl Vanderburg
CHERYL VANDERBURG had a brain wave after reading Leaside Life. Photo: Will Ashworth

Whether it’s on Bayview, Laird, along Eglinton or into the Leaside Business Park, cleaner surroundings both inside and outside a business help improve the image that the particular business is trying to project.

The same holds true for a neighbourhood or community.

Rumsey Rd. resident Cheryl Vanderburg recently started working on a litter abatement program with the Leaside Library at the Trace Manes Park children’s playground and wading pool adjacent to the library. Library staff pick up litter on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and she does the same on Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend. The improvement was immediately noticeable to everyone involved.

Then she got a brain wave.

After reading in Leaside Life’s June issue about two young Leasiders who cleaned up the area immediately surrounding the Talbot Park baseball field after finding it overrun with garbage this spring, due to all the snow we got this past winter, Cheryl Vanderburg thought to herself, “Why can’t we create a litter abatement program [like the one at the library] for parks and roadways?”

Currently, the city has no such program.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, she conducted a little online research to see if any Ontario municipalities already operate park/roadway adoption programs. She found that Ottawa has operated a successful Adopt-a-Park/Roadway initiative for the past 13 years with 120 parks and 60 roadways covered. While Ottawa’s proven success provides a template for something similar here, Vanderburg envisions a more community-driven endeavour where the city provides support but generally remains in the background.

Excited about the possibilities for Leaside, Vanderburg immediately contacted Councillor John Parker, who passed the idea on to Roger Macklin, parks supervisor for Ward 26. Both men support the idea. The Leaside Property Owners’ Association has promised to bang the drum on Vanderburg’s behalf.

Her proposal is currently making its way through the city bureaucracy. Hopefully, something concrete can be announced in September.

The goal of the program is to create a litter-free Leaside where businesses, residents, municipal employees and everyone else who  contributes to the fabric of our community works together to make this a reality.

Can you help?

The first step is to adopt a park or roadway in Leaside that you care about. Ideally, somewhere near your home. You can do this by yourself or with a group of neighbours or friends. The important thing is that you adopt a distance or space that is manageable based on the number of people involved who’ll be doing the garbage collection, etc.

If you’re just one person I wouldn’t suggest adopting Trace Manes Park. Unofficially Vanderburg already has done so but I’m sure she’d love some help.

Rather you should consider the sidewalk or roadway directly in front of your house, apartment, business or institution.

In Ottawa the city provides free garbage bags, gloves, yard waste bags, graffiti removal supplies as well as any small tools needed for any clean up undertaken by community volunteers.

While it’s likely Toronto would follow Ottawa’s lead, Vanderburg believes that donations/sponsorships from local businesses (just like those we’re seeing for lawn signs asking motorists to slow down on our streets) would help broaden the scope of the program to include flower planting and other useful beautification tools.

City booster Jane Jacobs used to say, “People don’t litter where there is no litter.” She believed peer pressure is a contagious universal force.

Not so sure?

Go to the intersection of Fleming and Bayview and watch the pedestrians crossing against the red light when headed north or south on Bayview. They’re less likely to do so if another person is standing at the corner waiting for the light to change. It’s human nature.

Clean neighbourhoods are proven to increase the quality of life of its residents, engender social pride, add vibrancy to local businesses, reduce crime and antisocial behaviour, and most importantly from a dollar and cents perspective, increase home prices.

Little by little, Vanderburg believes, Leaside can become a model of cleanliness in a city where massive growth seems to be sacrificing Toronto’s long-standing reputation as tidy and clean.

Every stakeholder in Leaside has something to lose if we allow
litter to overrun our parks and roadways. Let’s all take responsibility for our own little part of the city. If we do this, the Adopt-a-Park/Roadway initiative has every chance for success.

It will probably all begin this fall.   

To find out how you can get involved in the Adopt-a-Park/Roadway program, please contact:

Cheryl Vanderburg at 416-425-3022 or via email.

About Will Ashworth 51 Articles
Will Ashworth contributes to Leaside Life.