The City of Winnipeg says it is moving at twice the speed to pick up abandoned waste throughout the peak of summer, but some in the North End want the effort to continue beyond that.
On June 6, Diane Sacher, Winnipeg’s director of water and waste, told the city’s protection and community services committee that an extra day had been added to the abandoned waste pickup schedule. This means crews can respond to 311 calls within three days instead of 10 in problem areas of the city such the North End, Sacher said.
"We want to expedite the process to pick up twice a week," she said.
The speedier pickup has already begun, Sacher said, and will continue until July 31 in an effort to combat arson as it begins to peak in summer — about 25% of arsons are caused by abandoned waste, according to the city.
Sacher said the city’s response to pick up abandoned waste is about 10 days — the time it takes from when calls come in to 311, are referred to the city’s bylaw enforcement for investigation and eventually referred for pick up.
The city has so far received more than 2,300 calls to pick up abandoned waste this year. Last year, it received more than 9,100 calls, according to the city.
However, the Dufferin Residents Association says the neighbourhood’s war against abandoned waste can’t be solved by a one-time cleaning.
"It’s a great start, the community is notably cleaner," said Jessie Lee, the association’s community development worker.
"But no sooner do they take a large pile of waste away that another one will appear in its place.
This issue is perhaps larger than they realize."
One of the community’s hot spots is a Jarvis Avenue back lane between McKenzie and Parr streets. Because the alley is hidden and well-treed, it has become a popular dumping ground for household and commercial waste. Last Thursday, bags of garbage, old clothing, couch cushions, sheets of plywood and a wooden door lay strewn on both sides of the alley.
"This wasn’t here five days ago," said Dufferin board chair James Favel, who drives through the alley frequently to see what is being dumped.
Both Favel and Lee acknowledge the city’s effort in working with their group on the issue. The two groups have even struck a committee that reports monthly on the issue.
Still, they want to see the city maintain its speedier pick up beyond July 31. Favel wants to see a truck strictly dedicated to patrolling back lanes year round, winter included.
"This is an ongoing issue," Favel said.
"It gets even worse in winter because everything is left longer unchecked. It builds up."
"It would be easy to lose momentum," Lee added. "The issue goes beyond a being surgical cleaning once."
Though the city has found money in this year’s budget to pay for the expedited pickups, around $60,000, it will likely have to wait until next year’s budget to find money for it to continue, Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie said.
Eadie agreed the city needs to combat abandoned waste year round, and would also like to see dedicated trucks given the task, noting Brandon as a model to follow.
"If we get rid of that extra day, it’ll probably go back to what it was last year, which was not good," he said.