A small minority give the neighbourhood a bad rap over garbage
On a warm Victoria Day holiday Monday, many Park Extension residents took advantage of the day off and nice weather to do some spring cleaning or to work in their gardens planting flowers and vegetables.
Most residents do their part to make their area more beautiful and a more enjoyable place to live through small individual gestures like gardening, community art installations and general upkeep of their properties.
While many are in their gardens, the long weekend marks the start of summer and the beginning of warm weather, and with it, all the sites and smells of the city during the hotter months.
Unfortunately, this is not only limited to the smell of flowering plants and leafy trees but also garbage bags and household waste piled high in streets on days they shouldn’t be. This was made clear during a tour of the area with city councillor for Park Extension Mary Deros on Monday.
Although Park Extension has a host of beautifully kept green alleyways and lush vegetable gardens, a small minority of residents make the neighbourhood a little less enjoyable by not following city guidelines on garbage and household waste pick up.
Although waste collection for the district is set for Fridays, except for large multi-unit apartment buildings which have pick-up twice a week, it’s still common to see garbage bags already on the sidewalk as early as Saturday morning.
According to city regulations, household waste can only be taken out the night before collection and must be stored in the appropriate containers.
But some residents decide to contravene regulations and take out garbage any day of the week, as was the case this Monday.
Still not ideal
Mary Deros, who participated in a flower distribution campaign by the city over the weekend, said that the garbage problem is something that frustrates her immensely.
Although Deros says it’s a minority of people who don’t seem to care about the cleanliness of their area, it gives the neighbourhood a bad reputation for garbage.
“There are some people who really hit us on the head by saying Park Ex is a garbage dump,” said Deros, but added that she had seen a real improvement over the years.
“Because they don’t want the garbage around their homes they put it in somebody else’s bin,” said Deros of people who drop their waste in street-side garbage cans or in the bins on other people’s properties.
Deros said that the problem could be attributed to several factors. She underlined that many owners who do not live in their buildings often leave them unattended.
“They come for the rent, but they don’t clean,” said Deros of one building that had clearly been left with little maintenance. “The grass has passed the fence!” she exclaimed.
This is in addition to many owners who do not provide enough bins for the number of tenants, making the garbage problem even worse.
“Smaller buildings, the owners live there and they’re better-taken care of,” Deros added.
Deros also mentioned how certain cultural differences in Park Extension may contribute to some citizens not understanding the reasons behind city policy.
One of those mentioned by Deros is the Hindu and Jain tradition of feeding birds as a way of honouring one’s ancestors.
Although she understands the cultural significance, Deros also said it wasn’t entirely appreciated as putting out food attracted animals like mice and pigeons.
“You can’t sit on your balcony or put your clothes out, and when you’re doing a barbecue they will come,” said Deros of the many pigeons that roost on balconies and in roofs.
The issue of birds is also something that Park Extension resident of 20 years Cynthia McLean has noticed lately in her alleyway off Durocher Street.
“There are pigeons now that we never used to have,” said McLean, nonetheless adding that the garbage problem in her area had gotten better.
“Here there used to be garbage all the time. People used to leave it there, but now nobody dares,” stated McLean, adding that she felt it was thanks to the efforts made to beautify the laneways.
That includes adding murals and artwork as well as greening public spaces to encourage people to grow their own plants.
Though there are some problems regarding garbage in Park Extension, they are by no means insurmountable, according to Deros.
Small gestures such as keeping a garden at the front of the house or keeping garbage in until the day of the pickup.
She also asks owners to not pull up green space and pave the front of their buildings, as this goes against city by-laws and will be subject to removal.
Keeping the are cool
Extra green space doesn’t only contribute to the beauty of the area but also helps to mitigate heat during the summer, which Park Extension is notorious for.
“They now have trees which will give them an air of coolness, maybe not right away, but eventually,” said Deros of efforts to plant trees for residents on Outremont Avenue.
Deros said that the improvement was ongoing but that there was still work to do. She added that she wanted those not following the rules to be held to account by city inspectors and be issued fines.
She concluded by commending all citizens who were doing their part to keep their area beautiful saying that they were leading by example.