May 28th, 2024

Downtown program sweeping clean fall’s leaves

By Dale Woodard on October 22, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Downtown Clean Sweep Program foremen Dave Bissonette Jr. and Scott Ritter clean up leaves Thursday afternoon at Galt Gardens.

The Downtown Clean Sweep Program isn’t so much turning over a new leaf as they are scooping them up.
As the calendar turns to mid-October and the leaves tumble, there are plenty to pick up with the program having collected over 3,500 brown bags of leaves from the downtown core of Lethbridge over the past three years. Those bags are diverted from the City of Lethbridge’s landfill to biodegrade with all the other organic materials at the City of Lethbridge’s Waste and Recycling Centre.
This year Canadian Tire North Lethbridge donated 1,200 brown bags, which in turn are picked up by the City of Lethbridge’s Waste & Recycling Department twice a week from the downtown core.
“We’ve hit the ground running when it comes to picking up those leaves in the downtown core,” said Clean Sweep Program manager Melissa Johnson. “We just started collecting leaves last week. To date we have over 470 bags we’ve collected from the downtown core.”
It’s the third year Canadian Tire North Lethbridge has provided bags, said Johnson.
“But it’s usually around that 1,000 mark. This year they went above and beyond and gave us 1,200. We’ll have no problem filling them.”
The Clean Sweep Program has been in the downtown core for well over 10 years now, said Johnson, and offers work to the city’s more vulnerable population.
“We hire volunteer stipend workers who are experiencing homelessness to some degree and we have two foreman who work in our program every day to assist those individuals with their daily tasks of cleaning up in the downtown core.”
Over the past few years, the Clean Sweep Program has gotten a little more environmentally friendly.
“In the past we used to just put (leaves) in garbage bags and be done with it,” said Johnson. “But in the past five years we’ve been approached by the City of Lethbridge to see if we could divert that into the compostable areas for the waste recycling sector.
“The cost for each and every brown bag can be a little bit out of our reach due to the fact we are a non-profit organization and 1,200 bags is a lot to have to fork over each and every year. I was able to strike a partnership with Canadian Tire three years ago to see about their appetite for community involvement by donating these brown bags. They jumped on board, no problem.”
The Clean Sweep Program covers 27 square blocks, said Johnson.
“So essentially we’re responsible for maintaining the cleanliness from Stafford Drive up to Scenic Drive over to First Avenue South and then over the Sixth Avenue South. That’s basically the business community in and around there (where) we’re maintaining the cleanliness of and the leaf debris obviously falls in that programming.”
The program coincides with the City of Lethbridge’s residential fall leaf collection
program, said Johnson.
“They graciously pick up the bags for us. We have other programs we run within the Clean Sweep Program as well. They come and pick up those brown bags twice a week from us. It’s the community rallying around to keep everything nice and clean.”
The downtown leaf pickup program concludes on Nov. 18th.

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