A municipal program that helps keep Vancouver’s streets clean and provides employment to the homeless and low-income individuals will see a major funding boost this year.
Next week, Vancouver city council is expected to approve a city staff recommendation to increase the budget of the 2019 Street Cleaning Grants initiative by $405,000.
This is in addition to the $1.21 million in funding that was approved in February 2019.
The funding will go towards low-barrier employment programs of non-profit groups and agencies that interact with the city’s most vulnerable populations, including United We Can, Coastal Mental Health Foundation, Mission Possible Enterprises Society, Family Services of Greater Vancouver, and The Kettle Friendship Society.
These organizations informed the city that they have been experiencing challenges with maintaining current service levels due to increased program costs from safety equipment, personnel, fuel, and minimum wage increases.
A significant portion of the funding will go towards increasing street cleaning for areas that are increasingly problematic.
“There is a need to expand the service areas to include additional sections of Kingsway, Victoria Drive and Northeast False Creek. Further, there are issues that come up across the city and having a micro-cleaning service that is able to shift to areas of temporary need based on feedback from residents, businesses, or other stakeholders provides for some flexibility in adapting to changing conditions,” reads a city staff report.
As well, the city’s 22 business improvement associations will each see an additional city-funded cleaning shift per month for a total of four cleaning shifts per month.
Funding is also set aside to increase the cleaning of the city’s increasing number of public space assets, such as 800 Robson Plaza, Jim Deva Plaza, Bute/Robson Plaza, and Main/14th Avenue Plaza.
“With the city’s ongoing delivery of new public spaces, there is a corresponding need to maintain these areas so that they remain clean, safe and inviting gathering places,” continues the report.
City staff say they will review the program throughout the summer to determine whether the proposed service levels are adequate.
In 2018, the grant funding resulted in the collection of 14,800 bags of garbage, 81,000 single-use items, and 72,200 needles from streets and lanes. This activity generated 55,000 work hours to individuals with barriers to traditional employment.