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Keen on CLEAN In Owen Sound: 2) Let’s Clean Up 1st Avenue East!

April 16, 2011

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, and I see where the garbage is!

Last week, I spoke about Earth Day (and I urge you to look up that post for info on our activities here in Owen Sound). Today, I’m talkin’ trash.

It’s all along the east bank of the Sydenham River as it flows through town, along 1st Avenue East and behind the businesses which front 2nd Avenue East. It’s in a lot of other places, too, but because this is a prominent location—especially the stretch between 10th and 9th Streets—and because the trash there is notoriously bad, a very dissatisfied and enterprising Tracy Buckton decided to do something about it.  (Click here to see what the location should look like!)

Tracy works at Mr Inkbee, where they refill and recycle printer cartridges. So already her job is de facto helpful to the environment. Since Mr Inkbee is in the block in question, she didn’t have far to look to discern a significant problem. As these photos, which she allowed me to post, make clear, the steep bank has become a repository for refuse. And it’s not simply a matter of a few pop cans and candy wrappers. Both household and commercial waste, as well as transport skids and even dead cats litter the ground.

So Tracy took it upon herself to get the stuff removed. Not, as she told me in her energetic manner last week, by trying to get the City to clean it up, but by having members of the community pitch in. What better time than Earth Day to do it, and what better method than having citizens take responsibility for their town? This isn’t just a matter of good citizenship: while the river front belongs to the city, it has been established that the leaseholders of the properties in the area are in fact responsible for this aspect of maintenance, so an equitable part of the total cost of the clean-up will be underwritten by them.

Organizing the clean-up has been a big undertaking, requiring a full-on road closure of 1st Avenue, not to mention insurance, equipment, dumpsters, a hand washing station, portapotties, face masks, latex-free exam gloves, coffee(!) and so on. Tracy has obtained these things principally as donations, but if you have your own green-tab work boots and heavy-duty gloves, those would be good to bring.

The more difficult items, such as the skids and things near the base of the steeper sections, will be removed in teams. As far as the cats are concerned, Public Health does not require special treatment: they can be disposed of like other waste (apparently animal corpses are not a significant vector for zoonoses, or diseases transmissible from animals to people). The exception is birds. What with West Nile virus, dead birds should not be touched but clearly marked for pickup by Public Health. The same goes for sharps (syringes, blades, etc.).

And so Tracy invites us all—for we ALL have a stake in the preservation of our city—to come down to 1st Avenue East on Earth Day (April 22) between 9:00am and 12:00pm to pitch in! Afterward, everybody will move to the Legion to relax and get fed, as we carry on with Earth Day celebrations.

She has created a Facebook community group page: Let’s Clean Up 1st Ave East on Earth Day April 22 and a Facebook events page: Let’s Clean Up 1st Ave East on Earth Day – Your Invitation!. Click on these to get more information!

She’s been on 92.3 The Dock and by the time you read this will have appeared on Rogers’ Grey County Life. Her efforts have already been publicly noted by Mayor Deb Haswell and NDP candidate Karen Gventer. She’s dynamic, powerful, and will be an activist to be reckoned with.

I have visions of holding a big Earth Day cleanup of a sore spot each year. There are always ravines (shopping carts over the embankments on Alpha Street, anyone?) and wooded areas to tidy up, and April is the perfect time of year: the snow is gone, a winter’s worth of trash lies exposed, but there isn’t any foliage to obscure the ground.

All in all, a great initiative by a great person in a great town!


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One Comment leave one →
  1. catherine333 permalink
    April 17, 2011 1:14 am

    Wow, she sounds like a force of nature. What a great idea!

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