‘Trash volcano’ spreads repeated concern

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In a dumpster behind an apartment block, what one North End resident calls a “trash volcano” has erupted.

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In a dumpster behind an apartment block, what one North End resident calls a “trash volcano” has erupted.

Empty food containers, rotten groceries, beer cans and unidentifiable detritus has overfilled and spilled out of the large trash bin behind 270 St. John’s Ave., with garbage trailing into the back alley and nearby street.

It’s looked like this for weeks and has only gotten worse — and more dangerous — without anyone coming along to clear it, area resident Will Jones said Monday.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Empty food containers, rotten groceries, beer cans and unidentifiable detritus has overfilled and spilled out of the large trash bin behind 270 St. John’s Ave., with garbage trailing into the back alley and nearby street.

“It’s been on fire a couple of times. There have been mattresses left out there that eventually get burned,” Jones said. “It’s a firebug’s dream.”

Even if civic staff were to come now, he added, the bin hasn’t been dealt with regularly in the past by the City of Winnipeg, the building landlord or any private trash-clearing service.

“The concern that I have, and no doubt everyone else in the neighbourhood has, is that it’s just going to repeat itself,” Jones said. “Either the residents of the apartment building or people are just coming and dumping in that bin — it’s going to get bad again almost instantly without any sort of city monitoring or monitoring by the landlord.”

The Free Press was unable to confirm the owner of 270 St. John’s Ave. by deadline on Monday. Residents said they, too, were unable to identify the owner.

A city spokesperson said they couldn’t comment on whether garbage pick-up was being done by a private contractor or the city.

”We can’t comment on which services this property is currently signed up for with the city or externally. The property is responsible for supplying their own front-end garbage bins,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Any additional waste above the capacity of their bins is the property owner’s responsibility.”

They did not answer a question on how many complaints the city had received on the building’s issue.

Jones said he’s been left frustrated after making several 311 calls that have gone unheard.

“The city should be billing for this, any extra clean-up that they’re not responsible for, they should be billing the landlord for this, and get it taken care of so that it’s not turning the North End into an undesirable place to live.”

The trash, Jones said, is often rummaged through by people in need.

“It shows that our social services are tremendously underfunded, that these people don’t have the necessities of life, so they have to do this.”

Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said his office has has received complaints about the bin in question in the past. Both drive-by dumping and residents illegally throwing out their trash are common complaints in the ward, he said.

Eadie wants to see the city amend its waste collection guidelines to give more power to bylaw officers to take such issues into their own hands. If a bin is privately owned and not being maintained, the area councilor said, the city should clean the mess and bill the landlord.

“Especially with this one in St. John’s, it sounds like it’s getting way out of hand. We just need to go through there and then, you know what? Send a bill. Send a bill to the property and just take (trash) out. As soon as you see (trash) there, have it taken away,” Eadie said.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A city spokesperson said they couldn’t comment whether garbage pick-up was being done by a private contractor or the city.

“And actually, what will end up happening is, you’ll still get people with bad attitudes, but you’ll soon find that the problem is way less.”

More money devoted to waste management and an overhaul of how the city cleans its messes is needed, he said. Regular dumping grounds should be monitored and cleaned consistently by the city, with extra bins being placed in problem areas like homeless encampments, rather than the city waiting to be inundated with 311 complaints, he said.

“Let’s be realistic… the city knows where this garbage is dumped all the time. Why do we have a complaints-based system that works (badly) in most cases?”

A motion was brought forward by Coun. Cindy Gilroy (Daniel MacIntyre) in September that would require owners of multi-family buildings to have a minimum number of garbage bins on their property, regardless of municipal or private trash collection. The city currently has recommended bin sizes, based on the number of units the building has, but no requirements.

That motion came after complaints from condo resident Pauline Dussault, who said her 722 Maryland Ave. building hasn’t had any garbage bins since the city removed them last summer. Trash had overtaken the side of the building, bringing mice.

She went to CBC News with her concerns on Jan. 3. One day later, the garbage was gone, she said.

“We still don’t have garbage bins, mind you. So again, it’s just going to start piling up again,” Dussault told the Free Press on Monday.

Dussault’s unit is managed by Oak and Apple Inc., who told the Free Press garbage collection was the responsibility of the condo’s board, and it had forwarded complaints to the board before.

The condo board did not respond to requests for comment.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

History

Updated on Monday, January 9, 2023 8:27 PM CST: Fixes typos

Updated on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 1:42 PM CST: Clarifies that Oak and Apple Inc. manages tenancies of units in the building, not the entire building.

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