Take Pride Winnipeg still committed to cleaning up city despite COVID-19 pandemic

Litter lines an ally in downtown Winnipeg. Alison MacKinnon/ Global News

It’s not a pretty time of year in Winnipeg.

With melting snow unearthing hidden layers of litter, the streets in the spring can be a little less than appealing.

For Tom Ethans and Take Pride Winnipeg, however, it’s an ideal time of year to take stock of the city’s cleanliness. Take Pride’s annual Winnipeg litter index is an assessment of the city’s roads — although this year, social distancing has made the survey a little more complicated.

“We’re driving around in cars, and we’re either by ourselves or with a family member who lives with us,” Ethans told 680 CJOB.

“We have to be very cognizant of the social distancing rules.”

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Ethans said the streets are judged on a 1-4 scale — with a one rating meaning there’s no littler at all, and four meaning a lot of litter. The average Winnipeg street, he said, tends to be just over a two rating.

“Residential streets are basically better than the other streets… but you’ll always see some litter right now, at this time of year, everywhere,” he said.

“It’s when you’re going down a street and you see constant litter on either side of the street, that’s when it’s a four.

“You’ve got a lot of fours throughout the city, not just in one area, and those are ones that are going to take quite a bit of time to pick up.”

The highest-ranked area — and therefore the one with the most litter — in 2020 was St. Vital at 2.56, followed by Fort Rouge/Lindenwoods/North Fort Garry (2.46) and St. Boniface (2.45).

At the other end of the spectrum, West Winnipeg (2.03), Downtown (2.06), and North East Winnipeg (2.09) were the cleanest.

Ethans said the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting volunteer efforts to clean up Winnipeg’s streets, including a now-postponed “butt blitz” planned for this month.

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“It’s people just picking up cigarette butts and counting them, and we would like to do that once people can get back outside properly,” he said.

“People aren’t using cigarette butt receptacles or pocket ashtrays, but they’re throwing them on the street.

“We’re going to be sitting down with City of Winnipeg staff in the next couple of days to see how we’re going to do things.”

Individuals, he said, are encouraged to pick up litter if they walk past it, but formalized volunteer efforts in groups larger than three or four people are still a ways away.

“Let’s understand that we all need to work together to beautify the city and if we do that it’ll help us all feel more positive about the city,” he said.

“We’re in a bad way right now emotionally with people being in their homes all the time, so this might be a way to do something positive while you’re out walking around.”

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