NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Volunteers clean up the streets
High turnout during first downtown litter pickup of the season

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fifty five do-gooders took to city streets last Wednesday armed with safety vests, rubber gloves and garbage bags in the season's first downtown litter pickup.

NNSL photo/graphic

Volunteers Joyce Gilchrist, left, and Krystine Hogan pick up litter on 51 Street during a volunteer litter pick-up event downtown last Wednesday. The event set a record for volunteers with 55 participants. - Thandiwe Vela/NNSL photo

"We were overwhelmed by the response," said organizer Paul Falvo. "We ran out of vests for the first time ever, so that was really encouraging.

"I think people get keen this time of year because the snow melts and all of a sudden you can see the goodies left behind," he said.

While there was no official tally on how much garbage was collected, Falvo estimated about 24 large bags of garbage was collected, an impressive amount considering volunteers were asked to pick up garbage for about 15 minutes each.

As a reward for helping with the dirty job, volunteers were treated with coffee or tea courtesy of Javaroma and prizes were given out at the end of the event.

"It went really well. Apparently, this was the best turnout they've ever had," said Cat McGurk, Earth Week co-ordinator for Ecology North.

One of the 55 volunteers was Joyce Gilchrist, who says she has been participating in the annual garbage pickup since about 2008.

"Mostly, because I don't like to see litter around," she said when asked why she chooses to help pick up trash.

The most common and surprising amount of trash has consistently been cigarette butts, said Gilchrist.

"What's always kind of amazing to me is how many cigarette butts are around, although I had chosen not to focus so much on them this time because you can spend a lot of time in a very small space," she said.

Volunteers rallied at Javaroma at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and there was no set boundaries for where garbage was collected, said McGurk.

"We let loose a bunch of Good Samaritans," she said while laughing.

As the trash was being collected, Gilchrist said there were many passersby who stopped to thank volunteers for helping to clean up after the spring melt revealed litter left throughout the winter.

"As the years have gone by, I think the fact that there is a group of us seen cleaning up maybe inspires other people," she said.

McGurk said she would like to thank everyone who came out to help clean up the city's streets, and hopes the high attendance continues during the rest of the summer's downtown litter pickups.

The next cleanup is scheduled for May 22.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.