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Letter: Garbage is garbage — it all needs to be dealt with

Seven days worth of litter picked up by Barry and Donna Imhoff during their twice-daily dog walks in St. John's.
Seven days worth of litter picked up by Barry and Donna Imhoff during their twice-daily dog walks in St. John's earlier this summer. - Contributed

I write in support of the letter of Sept. 1 by Anna Penney published in The Telegram ("Letter: Garbage is not a spring phenomenon".} In this letter Penney relates a conversation with a gentleman from the city’s waste management department who gave as a reason for not returning a public garbage container on Newfoundland Drive that it was being used to dispose of household garbage.

I recall some years ago hearing our present mayor, then a city councillor, give the same reason for not distributing more garbage containers throughout the city. It looks like city staff have been drinking Danny Breen’s Kool-Aid and have accepted his ridiculous line of reasoning.

Are we to put up with a filthy city because some people place household garbage in city bins? If they do, so what, isn’t that practice better than strewing garbage on city streets and onto vacant lots owned by private individuals and all levels of government?

Isn’t that what garbage bins are for, aren’t they placed so that people can put garbage in them? If the city doesn’t have the budget to collect garbage from an increased number of garbage bins, increase the budget. Heaven knows there is enough money wasted at city hall to enable council and staff to find a few thousand dollars for extra collection.

I would like to know where this myth that people use public garbage containers for household garbage came from?

Personally, I think it was made up by Danny Breen during the radio interview I heard him give all those years ago. As a habitual user of public garbage containers I am continually placing plastic bags of garbage in public containers.

These plastic bags of garbage do not come from my home, it is litter that I pick up on city streets as I walk my dog.

Has the city examined the contents of city containers to determine with certainty they contain household garbage? I doubt it!

Staff seem content to spout the myth about the amount of household garbage in public containers as an excuse for not doing anything about the amount of litter and garbage on city streets. I challenge staff to contact me and we will conduct a survey to determine exactly how much household garbage is really placed in city containers.

A clean city doesn’t happen by accident nor does it happen because people are necessarily contentious. It happens because cities spend money on keeping the city clean. Anyone who has travelled to any European city can attest to that fact. There are always people patrolling the streets on foot picking up litter. Night time sees most cities perform a full court press with an army of workers sweeping streets and emptying garbage containers.

Heaven forbid that the citizens of our city should ask for that level of effort. No, we only ask that more garbage containers be placed at strategic locations so that whenever a pedestrian looks to dispose of litter, they can see a place to put it. Is that really too much to ask?

Barry Imhoff

St. John’s

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