Michael Geller’s recent discovery of garbage along the curb of the 100-block East Hastings St. resulted in two factual mistakes: first, the conclusion that “there is now an area in our city which the sanitation department deems too dangerous to keep clean during daytime” and secondly, that the city lacks a volunteer-driven spring cleaning program.
In fact, Keep Vancouver Spectacular, Vancouver’s neighbourhood-based, volunteer-driven program is now in its 20th year and has been well under way for weeks.
So far this year, more than 18,700 volunteers have worked on 79 city blocks, collecting tons of litter. Chinatown’s clean-up is scheduled for May 24 and the Downtown Eastside has already had one event. Carnegie Centre does its own periodic clean-ups and a volunteer has adopted Pigeon Park.
But the city does not rely on volunteers alone for street cleaning. Night time cleaning is often much more efficient, when people and cars are fewer. About 18 per cent of the city’s street cleaning budget is directed to the Downtown Eastside, from Cambie Street to Campbell Avenue, with mechanical sweeping four to seven nights a week and motor litter cart cleaning seven days a week.
In addition, the city supports social enterprise initiatives through Street Grants funding so groups like United We Can can do micro-cleaning of city lanes and streets through the Downtown Eastside. These low-barrier jobs for local residents provide two shifts, Monday to Friday, morning and afternoon.
The litter Mr. Geller spotted probably originated with the informal street market that has sprung up on that block. The city has been involved in intensive efforts, working with the VPD, Vancouver Coastal Health, the community and many stakeholders to find a safe new location for this activity. That work continues, but the city has already concluded that in the new location, there will be proactive measures to control garbage and vendors will be registered.
Like all Vancouverites, we are proud of our city and want to see it look its best.
Coun. Geoff Meggs, Vancouver