Residents say the answer to the garbage problem plaguing and causing some to move out of Regina neighbourhoods like heritage and north central is quite simple.
“Having shorter timelines for cleanups when there’s a problem and having consequences for people who repeatedly don’t deal with their own trash or create a mess for everyone else,” said Orion Paradis, who is a resident, landlord and business owner in Regina’s heritage neighbourhood.
The garbage issue in alleys and yards in the heritage neighbourhood started about seven years ago and has gotten progressively worse according to residents who say they’ve had enough.
“Days of trash laying everywhere sometimes with needles mixed in, often with rotten food. Then I clean it up then it gets pulled out again then I clean it up then it gets pulled out again. Very infrequently is the property owner involved and it kind of falls to the other residents to maintain that person’s property for them,” lamented Paradis.
“I’ll be perfectly blunt. The reality of the problem is so severe and dragging down those communities to such an extent, it is a public health hazard if we are thinking about some of the waste,” said councillor Andrew Stevens at Wednesday’s Regina city council meeting.
And the accumulation of trash is more than just an eyesore.
“People then also start making a dumping grounds right where people are like, ‘Ok great, let’s throw the couch here because someone isn’t taking care of their land anyways.’ Then it just become more opportunity for hazardous issues,” said former heritage resident Rachel Wolbaum.
“Even if there’s no needles, even if it’s just diapers and rotten food and other gross things it’s just really disheartening. You’re like this is where I live, this is my reality, and that doesn’t feel very good for anyone and no one should have to live like that. Honestly in Heritage it’s bad and in North Central it’s worse so I’m hoping this will have consequences for those who can’t advocate for themselves,” said Paradis.
Residents say the vermin the garbage attracts and the smell it creates in the summer are hard to ignore.
“If you have a property owner that doesn’t care for the community and take care of the property and it happens to be next door to yours, it becomes your ongoing property issue because you have to care for the community and do your best to do so,” said Wolbaum.
Amendments to waste management and community standards bylaws at Wednesday’s city council included increasing fines by $50 per garbage violation and expediting a response service that can usually takes months down to just weeks.
The first violation is now a $150 fine and increases in $50 increments per violation.
“So say you complained about a property that had trash all over the place the landlord would be given six weeks and then they could appeal it and get another two weeks and then if there was snow they would give them another month for the snow to melt, so this could be like three months to pick up some trash which you could literally do in a couple of hours,” said Paradis.
“We have children that are growing up in the community that deserve better. We have property owners that have created their life there and deserve to be able to walk in the streets, walk behind their houses and not have the kind of issues that we have right now,” said Wolbaum.