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New clean-up committee shows that council cares, mayor says

The committee’s objective is to champion and encourage groups and individuals to create a higher level of ownership and passion in their neighbourhoods to help promote a cleaner community
Moose Jaw City Hall
Moose Jaw City Hall (Shutterstock)

A municipal committee that Mayor Fraser Tolmie has championed and that focuses on city cleanliness and community appreciation is now in existence. 

City council voted unanimously during its March 22 regular meeting to establish the Community Clean-up Committee and accept the terms of reference that give guidance to — and set out the mandate of — the committee. 

The committee’s objective is to champion and encourage groups and individuals to create a higher level of ownership and passion in their neighbourhoods to promote a cleaner community, a council report explained. The committee will provide leadership for two annual city-wide clean-up efforts in the spring and fall. 

The group includes members from: 

  • Each community association 
  • Wakamow Valley board
  • Moose Jaw Downtown Association
  • Crescent Park Foundation
  • Tourism board
  • Chamber of commerce
  • Both school divisions
  • CUPE Local 9
  • Two citizens-at-large

The committee will be funded through the solid waste utility budget. Out-of-pocket expenses such as garbage bags and safety vests for volunteers “will be minimal,” the report said. 

City council will make appointments to the committee, with terms to be for two years. 

Council discussion

A recent drive down Thatcher Drive proved to be an eye-opening experience for the mayor, who explained that his daughter pointed to all the litter along the road. Tolmie attempted to explain that the wind blew garbage there, but his eight-year-old daughter pointed out that people litter and don’t pick up their garbage.

“She goes, ‘You’re the mayor; fix that,’” he chuckled. 

There are already community groups that clean up garbage and to which members of council — such as Crystal Froese and Heather Eby — belong, Tolmie continued. However, this new committee shows residents that council cares about the community. Furthermore, it’s about addressing other problem areas in the community about which city hall may be unaware. 

This committee also encourages partnerships, which council knows have proven helpful in implementing its strategic plan, he added. While the group looks big, there is a focus and a goal, including raising awareness about litter prevention.

The group will bring together other organizations, Froese acknowledged, but what she wanted to see was a solid communications strategy to build a stronger sense of the committee’s importance. She pointed to York, Ont., which successfully used public transit to advertise garbage pick-up days and discuss the problem of litter.

“Anybody who has come to groups that I’ve organized are doers. They are people who are more interested in picking up garbage than going to meetings,” she said. “It is the issue of how litter got there in the first place and how we change that.”

Eby was concerned that the committee did not have an assigned budget, compared to other municipal boards that had at least $1,000. She wondered if the committee would have to request funding via motions through council. 

An existing policy does discuss how much funding city hall provides, explained city manager Jim Puffalt. There isn’t a set amount of money; instead, city hall will provide safety vests, garbage bags and gloves to residents who want to clean up litter. 

One of city administration’s goals is to track how much litter the committee and other groups are depositing at the landfill so it can charge an internal fee, he added. Meanwhile, the solid waste utility does have enough money to support the committee.

“I know there’s enough money to fund it. As a committee, they need a mechanism to do that,” replied Eby. “I do think it is a very large group that presents its own set of challenges — a number of them — but I’ll support it in every way.”

The next regular council meeting is Monday, April 12.