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Litter cleanup pilot project gets green light at budget talks

City will deploy staff in the spring as part of $44K project; 'This is the first really concrete action we’ve taken ... to combat litter,' says Coun. Tim Lauer
2021-04-14 - Green Orillia clean-up (2)

Some of Orillia’s parks staff will get a jump on the season in 2022 when they’re deployed across the city to clean up litter.

Budget committee approved a pilot project last week that will see 16 seasonal parks staff start earlier in the season to complete the task, at a cost of $44,000.

They will focus their efforts in various areas where litter is a particular issue, including trails and along city streets.

“This is the first really concrete action we’ve taken, above our normal staff functions, to combat litter. Currently, litter isn't on the front burner. It’s usually a spring issue when there’s no leaves to cover things up,” said Coun. Tim Lauer.

“Every spring, we have a substantial number of concerns expressed about the amount of litter, and this is an attempt to come up with a solution.”

Coun. Ted Emond was “hesitant” to support the project.

“It’s putting the burden on the taxpayer for something the taxpayer could avoid having to pay for if the taxpayer didn’t litter,” he said.

Emond would rather the city focus on volunteer cleanups, education and enforcement “rather than burdening the taxpayer with an additional service that is totally and completely preventable if people were to understand and take it seriously that the cleanliness of our city is the responsibility of every resident and every visitor who comes to our community.”

That is not the reality, Lauer responded.

“Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. People disrespect the law. I’d like to believe that, over time, people are coming around to climate change and becoming more aware of it,” he said.

Emond’s point was “the same argument I’ve been listening to for years and years and years, and it hasn’t worked,” added Coun. Jay Fallis.

Budget committee, with the exception of Emond, voted in favour of the pilot project.

Operating budget discussions wrapped up last week. The capital budget will be discussed this week. All decisions require ratification at a special council meeting Dec. 6.