Thursday, March 04, 2004


The Toronto City Council today voted unanimously to approve a plan to focus on cleaning up and beautifying Toronto with an emphasis on picking up and preventing litter. The go-to-guy on all things trashy and Toronto related is of course The Armchair Garbageman.

Good for Toronto for commiting to cleaning up its streets. Now, I don't pay much attention to Montreal municipal politics (hey, I've only lived here for four years) but I dare say Montreal needs a similar initiative. Walking about town its impossible not to be confronted by the disgusting quantity and quality of garbage on the streets. Of course, as Armchair points out, the spring is always the worst time for this phenomenon becasue as the snow melts all the trash that wasn't picked up in October and that has been dumped since makes a revolting reappearance. But still, something needs to be done here.

The Toronto anti-litter plan focuses on hiring more city staff to clean up, placing more garbage and recycling bins throughout the city, and public education. I'm no expert in this area but it seems to me like these are the right measures, I just hope they give each the right emphasis. I see them as important in this order from least to most effective:

3. More staff
Really the least effective solution. If people are going to litter at regular rates all the city workers in... well the city, wont be able to keep up. Further, I have some personal experience in this area as a Parks employee in my hometown for the past few summers. Picking up trash is really one of the least appealing jobs town maintenance workers do, hence it often isn't done very well. Finally, I can also attest that there is usually much more usefull work to be done around town. If garbage didn't need to picked up it would save a lot of time and therefore money.

2. More bins
People are lazy. Most wont go out of their way to throw out trash, dog poop particularly. If people don't see a trash can within ten feet of them they'll likely opt for the ground.

1. Public education/advertising
As Toronto City council realizes, policing littering is next to impossible, so the threat of fines for doing so is little deterrent. The solution then: good old fashioned peer pressure and social control. Make people feel guilty and self-consious about littering, more importantly make them feel proud about having a clean city.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:38 p.m.