If you’re been walking around downtown Vancouver’s high pedestrian traffic areas, you’ve probably noticed an markedly increase in litter found on city streets.
According to Charles Gauthier, the President and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), he suspects there has been some cuts to the City of Vancouver’s engineering budgets.
“For example, we used to have individuals that push carts and they were city employees primarily working along Granville Street in downtown, picking up litter throughout the day mostly from Monday to Friday. But that has been cut and has not been in the budget for a very long time,” said Gauthier.
He adds that more litter disposal containers alone is not the solution. “We do need to have crews out there to do more pick-ups frequently,” Gauthier said. “Litter cans on their own will not solve the problem as they’re overflowing.”
Asked what solutions could be implemented, Gauthier argues for a multi-partner approach between local businesses, the DVBIA and the City. He believes individual businesses need to step up to the plate and “take care of their front door” as it has a great impact on people’s impression of their business and the neighbourhood their business is located in.
The DVBIA also allocates $70,000 annually from its 90-block commercial area member funds to perform supplemental street cleaning, but there’s only so much that their limited budget can do.
Moving forward, Gauthier says his association will try to work within their own channels to increase awareness about businesses taking more responsibility but he is also suggesting that the city needs to look at partnering with organizations like the DVBIA so that more effort can be put into it.
He turned to a recent visit to Winnipeg as an example with its anti-litter awareness campaign, joint litter stations where people can throw garbage and do their recycling of newspapers and refundables, and the partnership that exists between Downtown Winnipeg’s business association and the City of Winnipeg.
Using Winnipeg as a model, Gauthier said “the Downtown Winnipeg Biz does contract sweeping for the City of Winnipeg as supplemental cleaning. They provide them with mechanized sweepers, and the association hires people who were formerly homeless or have dealt with issues in life like substance abuse. It seems to be doing well.”
While the City and local businesses have to do their part to prevent the “broken windows theory” from holding up, there is only so much they can do. More people need to take responsibility for their actions.
“We need everyone to take more responsibility for litter. As individuals, everyone needs to take more effort not to leave discarded newspapers at the bus stop thinking people will pick them up. We need to make an effort to find the appropriate container to dispose of them. Everyone needs to raise the bar and pitch in,” said Gauthier.
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Featured image: The Black Azar