City crews get early start to spring clean-up

There’s a team spraying. Another scrubbing. And a third sweeping.

Miles Curry heads up the clean-up teams – 500 people in all.

“Because of the good weather, we were able to get out three weeks early,” he said.

Momentum is building toward Community Clean-Up Day – April 25 – a 24-hour blitz when members of the public are encouraged to come out and do their part to help clean up their neighbourhoods. But for the City of Toronto, that clean up is a three-week long venture that puts over 500 dedicated staff on the city streets with 300 pieces of equipment collecting all the debris the winter months have left behind.

As of this week, the city campaign has already collected over 2,600 tons of litter and organic debris. Director of Transportation Services, Miles Curry expects that number will exceed 4,000 tons by the end of the push.

“We should exceed the amount we collected last year,” he said.

Last year Curry’s crews collected a total of 3,500 tons of trash. That increase in collection doesn’t mean Torontonians are becoming sloppy; much of the material collected is organic: leaves, plant material, sticks and twigs left over from the fall.

In spite of the blitz this week, the pace of clean-up rarely changes for Curry’s men and women

“Because of the density, in the downtown core we sweep and weathervac everyday,” he said. “Towards the outskirts we’re able to do it every three weeks.”

The whole operation works as one finely tuned machine. Using enormous multi-purpose machines every street and sidewalk is washed, scrubbed and swept – a feat vast enough without the added complications of cars, buses, streetcars, bicycles and pedestrians to worry about.

There are often very small windows of time in which the crews are able to get at certain streets. They will work their way through zones on a tight schedule designed to avoid heavy traffic. If they run even a little behind schedule a laneway could fill up and the opportunity is lost. The goal is to be as invisible to traffic as possible.

The whole time, the team communicates via radio to ensure that cars, bicycles or pedestrians are affected as little as possible.

As the campaign wraps up this weekend, the city expects to see as many as 200,000 people take up the cause of Community Clean Up Day through schools and community organizations.