Army of volunteers to take on Toronto's winter trash for Earth Day

Army of volunteers to take on Toronto's winter trash for Earth Day

Volunteers are fanning out across the city this weekend to give Toronto a thorough spring cleaning in honour of Earth Day.

They'll be gathering and bagging the trash that collects in gutters, alleys and parks over the course of the winter, part of "Clean Toronto Together," the city's annual spring cleanup.  

"This is the 14th year," said Jim Baxter, director of the environment and energy division of the City of Toronto. "In the last three years this initiative has doubled in size."

Baxter said anyone looking to pitch in should check out this list of city parks, each of which will hold its own cleanup on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

You'll be in good company — between corporate and school events on Friday and the weekend's cleanups, "we should be approaching 200,000 participants this year," said Baxter.   

Events have also been put together around the city by different community organizations, with the city pitching in with garbage bags and pickup for registered groups.

The Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association, for example, will start at Barbara Hall park and then work their way down Church Street, explained community organizer Curran Stikuts.

"It's a great way for friends and neighbours to meet each other and get out," he said.

Meanwhile, to the east, volunteers who turn up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough to bag trash with Afro Roots Toronto, a business and community development organization, can expect a tasty reward.

"We're doing a barbecue after," said Afro Roots co-founder Travis James. "The barbecue is free for people who are participating in the cleanup."

Events cover city 'east to west' 

By the end of the weekend, much of the city will have been covered.

"There are events happening in each ward across the city, top to bottom, east to west," said Baxter.

Don't feel like trucking down to a local park? No problem.

"One of the really great things about this is individuals can take the initiative to participate in whatever way they have available to them. So if it's a family of four walking around picking up stuff, that's wonderful. If it's a street, even better," said Baxter.

The event has several corporate sponsors, some of which are pitching in to help Torontonians who are not attending organized events conduct a cleanup on their own.