Edmonton revises litter cleanup plan due to COVID-19

Edmonton’s community leagues will be key players in the city’s spring clean up efforts this year as they take on the role of distributing litter kits directly to volunteers.

The city is leaning on the leagues and business improvement areas to help hand out litter kits for its Capital City Clean Up. 

The kits are usually available for pick up at recreation centres and libraries each spring,  but with these facilities closed in the COVID-19 pandemic, the city had to come up with an alternative. 

Tanya Laughren, the community relations advisor with the Capital City Clean Up, said the leagues have “graciously” agreed to collect pre-made kits. 

“They are acting as the middle man between ourselves and the citizen in order to get the kits out to as many people as we can and city-wide,” Laughren said Friday. “We are thankful to have them as always and hopefully we reach as many citizens as possible.” 

Each of the city’s 160 community leagues is getting five kits to start. 

After the first five are used, residents can still request one from their league in the coming weeks. 

“The league can contact us directly and we will figure out distribution from there,” Laughren said. “So just trying to get started but we are looking at doing thousands throughout this summer as we normally do.” 

Litter kits include a garbage grabber, small and large garbage bags, gloves and a pamphlet outlining the safety tips for collecting in COVID-19 restrictions. 

The city is not limiting the number of volunteers who can pick up at a given time, but they are insisting people follow guidelines set out by Alberta Health Services, which prohibits group cleanups.

The city is asking community leagues and business improvement groups to hand out Capital City Clean Up kits this year as recreation centres and libraries are closed. (City of Edmonton)

Some groups like the Downtown Edmonton Community League are ready to participate and have their own supplies and leftover kits from previous years. 

Chris Buyze, president of the DECL, said the league is enhancing its cleaning protocols and having more hand sanitizer available. 

The DECL recommends volunteers bring their own non-surgical masks to wear during the cleanup. 

Buyze said May 3rd is the DECL’s main cleanup day. 

“That’s the day when we collect the most trash and sweep sidewalks, and get the gravel into the gutters,” he said. “We try to tackle as much of our community as we possibly can.”

Buyze noted that a lot of people — likely more than usual — will be using the park areas in the river valley this spring and summer. 

“There’s going to be a bit more effort maybe from community groups required to help clean this year.”

Buyze said he is worried how the river valley is going to get cleaned up this year, after the city cancelled the annual May 3rd River Valley Clean Up. 

A city spokesperson said he would respond to CBC News’ request for information on that next week. 

Safety tips

Included in the city’s litter kits is a sheet outlining AHS guidelines: 

  • Maintain a physical distancing of two metres more from others
  • Wear gloves
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Disinfect the litter grabber or any other tool used before and after use
  • Secure and dispose of all litter and garbage bags in appropriate disposal locations

Every year, the city asks volunteers who see needles or other hazardous materials to call 311. 

Laughren said the same rules apply this year, but can be extended to other items such as masks.

“Even if you’re out and about and you see a piece of litter that you’re not so sure of or a needle, or hazardous debris, you’re welcome to call 311 like you would have in the past, in order to have assistance to clean that up.”


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