Mayor John Tory launches 2021 city-wide spring cleanup

Today, Mayor John Tory officially launched Toronto's annual city-wide spring cleanup campaign.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, work at the City continues to move forward to ensure that residents have access to City services and amenities. This includes the work of essential workers from multiple City divisions who will take on the necessary work of making public spaces safe and clean for residents when they are outside for fresh air or exercise and essential workers travelling to and from work.

During the month of April and into early May, spring cleanup activities will require approximately 1,400 workers, with health and safety protocols in place, from across the City of Toronto. They will use approximately 150 pieces of equipment including garbage trucks, pickup trucks, street sweepers, sidewalk vacuums, loaders, tractors and pressure washers to clean parks, roads, sidewalks, ravines and other public spaces.

As part of the city-wide cleanup efforts and to make washrooms more accessible in the city, park washrooms that were closed for the winter will be opening up next week – almost a full month ahead of schedule. The 46 park washrooms that are currently open will remain open for the year and supplemental portable toilets that were installed over the winter will remain in place as seasonal washrooms are being opened.

This highly coordinated cleanup effort will help to:

  • refresh parks, ravines and public spaces following the winter by making them cleaner and safer for people to get outside and enjoy fresh air
  • contribute to better, cleaner and safer green spaces for people and animals by removing litter, garbage or debris from illegal dumping that can negatively affect waterways, aquatic life, animals, soil, plants and trees
  • enhance road and sidewalk safety by removing dangerous debris and dirt that may have built up over the winter and can impede people driving, cyclists and pedestrians; and
  • improve air quality by reducing the opportunity for dirt and dust particulates to be dispersed into the air.
Examples of city-wide spring clean-up activities include:
  • inspection of watercourses, clearing debris and blockages from storm outfalls and catch basins, identifying erosion issues around Toronto Water infrastructure and identifying damage to retaining walls, grates and headwalls
  • snow fencing removal and fence-line litter clearing
  • removal of debris such as tree branches, brush and mulching of leaves as well as blowing/clearing sport courts
  • inspection of park amenities and infrastructure, including paths and trails, for winter damage
  • illegal dumping clean up
  • litter pick up and debris removal in parks and near trails and roadways
  • sweeping of streets (expressways, major roads and neighbourhood streets), bikeways and laneways
  • vacuuming sidewalks, boulevard and laneway cleaning
  • power washing bridges and medians
  • minor repair work and initiation of major repair work as a result of winter damage; and
  • removal of graffiti and abandoned bikes.
Throughout the pandemic, the City has worked hard to keep public spaces clean and safe. Toronto’s more than 1,500 parks, green or natural areas and public spaces continue to be popular as people seek out fresh air and exercise.

During this time, parks remain open with many amenities available to the public who are outside for exercise. Available amenities include:

  • more than 800 playgrounds and 30 parks with outdoor fitness equipment
  • outdoor sport courts
  • 70 outdoor table tennis and 60 chess tables; and
  • 68 off-leash dog areas.
Beginning in May, additional staff will be dedicated to enhanced litter clearing across Toronto’s waterfront including popular destination parks and beaches. Beach grooming begins in late April to early May, weather dependent, and continues throughout the summer season. This will include increasing the amount of waste bins along the waterfront and emptying those in high traffic areas more frequently.

The City saw an increase in the amount of litter in Toronto’s public spaces last year. Litter can have harmful effects on the environment and pose risks to both animals and people. The City is asking the public to do their part to help keep Toronto clean and safe by properly disposing of items in available street and park bins and not littering items on the ground.

Due to current stay at home orders that help stop virus spread, the community-based “Clean Toronto Together” program – which traditionally happens in the spring – has been cancelled. The City is planning to reschedule Clean Toronto Together to September, subject to public health guidance at that time.

To better inform the City’s clean-up efforts, residents are asked to report litter hot spots on City property and illegal dumping on private property by submitting a service request online at www.toronto.ca/311.

To report illegal dumping on City property, including parks and in the right of way, residents should call 311.

Quotes:

“Throughout the pandemic, we have recognized the value of having access to clean and safe public spaces in the city. Residents used these spaces as an outlet for daily physical activity and to get fresh air. As we begin a new stay-at-home order, cleaning up our city spaces are more important than ever. I want to thank all the staff involved who will be working throughout the next few weeks to make sure our city is ready for spring and summer.”

- Mayor John Tory

“I would like to thank City staff who have worked diligently throughout the pandemic to maintain our parks, paths, ravines, streets and bikeways. This coordinated clean up effort is another example of how the City is working hard to create safer, cleaner outdoor places. These spaces are greatly valued by our communities and can be destinations for periods when residents are outdoors for exercise. I remind everyone to be mindful of our parks and public spaces and to please dispose of waste properly.”

- Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

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