NEWS January 28th, 2005

By Kris Scheuer

Business group takes on litter

A local business improvement area (BIA) is spending nearly $200,000 to top up the city’s efforts to keep the downtown core as litter-free as possible.

The Downtown-Yonge BIA has hired a “clean streets team” of three people to pick up litter, tear down posters and scrub graffiti off walls every day of the year except Christmas.

This is the third year for this initiative and it’s making a difference, said Megan Winkler, operations coordinator for the BIA. “Our streets are considerably cleaner than they were.”

While the efforts are making a difference, a new problem has arisen. “As soon as the city’s non-smoking bylaw went into effect (bars went smoke-free June 1) we saw a significant increase in cigarette butts on the streets,” she said.

The BIA is seeking a solution by working with the city by installing cigarette receptacles on the existing garbage bins, but the city isn’t ready to retrofit the current bins yet. That’s because the city is already testing thousands of new, larger recycling/garbage boxes known as “Eucan bins,” which already have cigarette butt receptacles. The city wants to see how these new bins work out, said Winkler.

Another reason litter ends up on the streets is the garbage bins are filled so quickly, so the BIA is encouraging its members to “adopt a bin”. Volunteers will be provided a dedicated number to call if a bin is.

City staff will empty the bin within two hours of the call or by mid-morning the next day, at the latest. Winkler said this won’t cost the business any money and will keep the area cleaner for both tourists and residents.