Toronto's melting snow reveals mega mess to clean up
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Ah, the dawn of spring. Marked by chirping birds, emerging tulips, greenery bursting from tree branches, fresh air.
Oh — and by puddles galore, those vast urban lakes of murk that can only be traversed via balletic leap.
By crusty piles of filthy snow lining streets, surviving the warm temperatures so long it’s almost impressive.
And, of course, by the appearance of the now-melting snow’s accumulated treasures: Flattened pop cans. Soggy leaves. The butts of every cigarette ever puffed in the GTA. Gum wrappers. Candy wrappers. Fast-food wrappers. Gloves. Scarves. Poop. So much poop.
Yes, we are in that awkward transition stage, the Grade 6 school photo of seasons. The beauty lies somewhere in there, underneath the pimples.
“I was just thinking to myself: Trinity Bellwoods, you’re so disgusting,” said Tressa Alan, sipping coffee on a bench Saturday afternoon, a meandering river of brown run-off coursing past her feet. “But soon enough, you’ll be boozy and summery and great.”
Like the first glimpse of a crocus, a sure sign of spring in this Queen West park is a plaid-wearing twenty-something settled in the grass, sipping from a tall can.
The mud-soaked grounds will stave that off for a while yet. Friends Sylvie Brownlow and Lindsay Thompson instead schlepped through the sludge and settled on a bench to chat and eat lunch in the “gross” park.
“I can’t believe this is our first park sit of the year,” Brownlow said, looking around the mostly empty area disapprovingly.
But things are looking up — and not just the temperatures, set to hover in the neighbourhood of 0 C into next week, and climb up to 7 C by Friday.
In a little over a week, a small army of city workers will spread out across town on an ambitious campaign to spruce up our surroundings.
Fifty litter vacuums, 45 sweepers, 20 front-end loaders, 50 stake trucks, 11 collection trucks and 60 pickup trucks will be needed to beautify city property and remove what will likely be more than a thousand tonnes of litter. Last year, the city’s collective filth weighed 3,600 tonnes.
Adding to this spring’s to-do list will be scooping up any leftover debris from Toronto’s ice storm, mostly small twigs and branches hidden in snow until now and inaccessible to cleanup crews.
Jim Harnum, the city’s general manager of solid waste management services, said residents finding debris on their property should pile twigs and branches into small bundles (no bigger than 1.2 metres long by .6 metres wide), and place them on the curb on their regularly scheduled garbage day. Standard collection crews will be responsible for pickup.
Harnum said the city is not taking responsibility for all leftovers, however. Anything found on a resident’s property exceeding 7.5 centimetres in diameter will have to be cleared by a private company. People spotting any large item on public property are asked to call 311 so the city can send out a special crew.
Of course, not everyone is suffering through the dirty early spring. Sami, a stark white Samoyed-Shepherd cross, bounded happily through the crud Saturday, her bottom half completely covered in brown mud.
The dog’s owner, Ginger Dean, shrugged good-naturedly when asked how she would clean up the pooch. She said she would towel Sami off, maybe try to let the mud dry before she could come in the house. There’s only so much you can do when there’s mess all around.