City streets a load of rubbish

Litter index ranking worse this spring


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Here’s the dirt on Winnipeg streets: they’re filthy.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/04/2022 (396 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Here’s the dirt on Winnipeg streets: they’re filthy.

Take Pride Winnipeg’s annual litter index shows an increase in the number of streets covered in trash.

“It’s pretty bad,” says executive director Tom Ethans as he assesses the state of Selkirk Avenue and Charles Street.

Take Pride Winnipeg executive director Tom Ethans walks among a line of trash on the corner of Charles Street and Selkirk Avenue. The annual litter index shows an increase in the number of streets covered in garbage. (Tyler Searle / Winnipeg Free Press)

Multi-coloured trash fills the gutters around him. Plastic wrapping and surgical masks hang from shrubbery, fast-food containers and cigarette butts are caught in chain-link fences.

Winnipeg is never at its best in spring, but this year it seems particularly grubby.

It is an awful sight, Ethans says.

After working with Take Pride for 25 years, Ethans has an eye for litter.

He spends hours cruising Winnipeg roads, scanning for garbage and releasing deep sighs as he passes particularly filthy streets.

“It’s everywhere. I see it everywhere, and I count it as I go,” he says. “We need people to help.”

Ethans ranks each area of the city on a scale of one to four. The worst places — such as Selkirk and Charles — are at the top end of the scale.

This spring, Winnipeg overall is at a 2.37 on the litter index — up from 2.18 last year.

Main thoroughfares such as Main Street, Lagimodiere Boulevard, Gateway Road, and Nairn Avenue are among the worst streets.

The amount of trash revealed by melting snow often seems overwhelming, but Ethans never gets discouraged. He has been in this business long enough to know the feeling won’t last, he says.

“The number of people that we get calls from, who would like to help, would like to spend a little time cleaning up — that’s incredible,” he says. “It doesn’t take much to make a difference… it’s just a matter of getting out there and getting it done.”

To make his point, Ethans leafs through pages filled with names of volunteers, dates, and locations.

Petline Insurance Co. is one name on the list.

In 2019, Juli Shewchenko and 15 of her colleagues volunteered with Take Pride to clean up the area around Polo Park. This year, they plan to do it again.

Shewchenko’s office overlooks Omand’s Creek, and many of her colleagues use the neighbouring bike lanes and walking paths.

“It was just a really nice idea to clean up an area that is used by our employees, as well as make it nice for our community,” she says. “It was really satisfying and rewarding. There was quite a bit of garbage.”

The team spent a few hours one afternoon cleaning up the streets. They collected more than 11 bags of garbage, Shewchenko says.

COVID-19 prevented Petline from participating in the spring cleanup over the past two years, but they plan to venture out again next week, Shewchenko says.

Take Pride provides garbage bags, gloves and garbage pickers to groups that want to clean up streets, including businesses and students.

People interested in summer employment or volunteer work can email

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