Trace Manes Park is named in honour of a popular Leaside mayor of the late 1940s. It comprises a baseball diamond – the home of Leaside Atom Baseball (LAB) – a sports field, the summer home of Pedalheads Bike Camp. It’s also the home of the Leaside Tennis Club with its six tennis courts, the Leaside Public Library, Trace Manes Park Community Centre, and the children’s wading pool and park. Phew! That’s a lot of activities.
As I do my weekly cleanups, I often look up to the heavens and wonder what Trace Manes would think of his legacy. Does he see the dogs pooping in the Millwood/Rumsey corner entrance and their owners who don’t ‘stoop and scoop’? Does he see the smokers who sit on the benches and leave a mound of butts at their feet? Or the late night beer drinkers who toss their empties carelessly on the ground? I don’t mind picking up this random litter as my hope is that when the park is clean, ‘people won’t litter where there is no litter’. What I do resent is cleaning up after the permit holders – I’m talking to you, LAB and Pedalheads – whose responsibility it is as part of their contract with the city to leave their section of the park neat and clean after their activity finishes.
At the beginning of the baseball season the diamond dugouts and bleachers are spic and span. Then, as the season progresses, the dugouts become increasingly littered with Dubble Bubble gum and wrappers, empty water bottles, sunflower seed bags and shells and scorecards, and the bleachers become littered with Tim’s and Starbucks takeaway cups. Thankfully LAB does respond to my emails and someone does come by to pick up. And their behaviour does improve. But the question I always ask myself is, why do I need to remind them every year? I dream of a season where the coaches, players and parents from the get-go take responsibility to clean up after themselves and leave the diamond as they found it.
It’s the same with Pedalheads. On day one of camp, the sports field is clean as a whistle. Then the campers have their first snacks and lunch under the trees along Rumsey and leave the area littered with food and beverage wrappers, and those pesky handlebar ribbons begin to break off and litter the entire field. So once again, I take a few pictures, send a quick email, which always gets a very apologetic response, and the field is cleaned and the behaviour remedied. But why do I have to be the ‘litter police’ every year. Shouldn’t this be part of the staff training and camper orientation?
The biggest conundrum is how to keep the children’s park litter-free as there is no permit holder to hound. I recently attended a public consultation on the Trace Manes Playground Rejuvenation Project in Memory of Georgia Walsh. I’m delighted that the park is getting a facelift and will provide more safety and enjoyment for Leaside families. But I am also concerned that increased usage will inevitably lead to more litter. And the only plans in place by the City to address this issue are to add more and larger waste receptacles, increase no-littering signage, and hope for good behaviour from park users. I’m sure that the 80/20 rule applies to littering – 80 per cent of park users clean up after themselves while 20 per cent don’t. So really, in the end, it’s up to us as a community to decide if we want a clean park and what we’re prepared to do to keep it clean. Food for thought for the Rejuvenation Project Committee and for all of us living near or using the park.