Mississauga steps up efforts to solve big litter problem

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Published April 13, 2023 at 11:17 am

Mississauga officials are stepping up efforts to deter residents from tossing all kinds of garbage onto the ground in parks, on trails and along city streets–a major and worsening problem in the city in the last couple of years.

Since last spring, when City of Mississauga clean-up crews reported that the melting snow turned up tonnes of discarded trash on streets and in parks, rivers and streams, and elsewhere, even in places where plenty of garbage cans were available nearby, the City has upped it efforts in delivering the “keep it clean” message.

A City spokesperson said in an email to insauga.com that, since last year, the City has now increased litter messaging through the use of temporary signs in parks and along roadsides, social media and a new website (www.ownyourlitter.ca).

“We are continuing litter messaging this year with calls to action specific to how people can help every day to control litter,” said Nadia Paladino, Mississauga’s director of parks, forestry and environment.

Among other strong suggestions, the City urges people to:

  • reduce litter by not generating waste in the first place
  • “feed trash bins, not wildlife”
  • ensure lids on garbage and recycling containers are secure, and do not overfill containers
  • organize a park clean-up or volunteer with family and friends to pick up litter in a park or on a trail

While City officials aren’t saying if the melting snow this spring is turning up just as much trash as last year, or less or more, a few telltale signs show that litter continues to be a problem in Mississauga.

Ward 8 Councillor Matt Mahoney alerted senior City staff to the trash issue at Wednesday’s (April 12) meeting of general committee.

Now that spring has arrived, the councillor observed, “some of the garbage bins, they’re getting really piled up.”

Mahoney said his local community, and others across the city, organize clean-up blitzes each spring “…and I think we’re getting there. I’m getting flooded with full garbage bins.”

Geoff Wright, the City’s transportation and works commissioner, said Mississauga’s annual spring clean-up program will address the matter.

Ward 6 Councillor Joe Horneck pointed out that garbage is blocking many storm drains in his area and wanted to know when the City’s street sweepers will take care of that problem.

“The snow is gone. When do we start doing the street sweeping to…clear out the storm drains? I noticed a few are getting clogged up,” he asked of staff.

Wright said spring street sweeping will begin soon.

Paladino noted that it’s still early in the season, but “City staff are already actively tackling their litter clean-up following the snow melt.

“While it is great to see people enjoying our parks, trails and outdoor public spaces, we want to remind people to help keep our city litter free,” Paladino continued. “City staff continue to work diligently to keep up with the waste created in parks, woodlots, natural areas, sidewalks and along roadways and to clean up litter in these areas. We ask everyone who uses our park spaces to please put litter in its proper place.”

Last year, City clean-up crews reported a dramatic increase in the amount of litter since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Relatively new litter items such as discarded face masks and other PPE (personal protective equipment) were found on the streets and in parks in large numbers, officials said earlier, many of the items hanging from trees and bushes.

Additionally, coffee cups, pop cans, water bottles, pieces of Styrofoam, old drywall, fast food wrappers/containers, cigarette butts and gum have all been found piled up in ditches, parks and even hanging from trees the last couple of years.

Particularly troublesome, the City notes, is the amount of trash found that’s blocking stormwater catch basins on streets. Clogging those areas can lead to flooding.

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