SonBird Refuse and Recycling employees tackle waste left out by Ucluelet residents during the town’s annual Spring Cleanup Day. The popular annual event has been revised this year and waste pick up will no longer be offered. (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet shakes up Spring Cleanup Day

A popular Ucluetian tradition has been tweaked for the sake of frugality and cleanliness.

A popular Ucluetian tradition has been tweaked for the sake of frugality and neighbourhood cleanliness.

Every May, Ucluelet residents have lugged the unneeded items cluttering their homes to the side of the road to be picked up by SonBird Refuse and Recycling employees as part of the district’s annual Spring Cleanup Day.

That tradition is officially following the Canadian penny into extinction as Ucluelet’s municipal council recently announced no pick up will take place this year, though the district is currently hammering out a plan to set up a drop off site at the Ucluelet Community Centre where residents could bring their refuse to be sorted, according to Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel.

“There will still be a Spring Cleanup, it just won’t be a spring pick up,” Noel told the Westerly News. “It’s going to be more of a spring drop off.”

He said the drop off could merge other activities that take place around the same time, particularly volunteer efforts to remove invasive scotch broom, while also catering to those who enjoy scouring local neighbourhoods to find treasures in others’ trash in the days leading up to the pickup.

“That will lower the cost and, at the same time, we could have a drop off facility for scotch broom and maybe have a spot where, if people want to give away items, people could go through them,” he said. “Staff are trying to pull that together.”

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Noel suggested taxpayers have been funding the annual Spring Cleanup pick ups and the town’s municipal council has budgeted about $10,000 each year to pay for it, but costs have escalated and last year’s bill came in around $25,000.

“There were some big costs that came in for the cleanup last year,” he said. “This year, if we didn’t bring up the topic, it could easily be $35,000. So, when’s a good time to actually revisit this whole conversation? As far as I’m concerned, last year when we got the invoice for the Spring Cleanup, it definitely took the fun out of the activity.”

He said the district did not have a contract or set price with SonBird to pick up the refuse and that new sorting regulations complicated the process, making it more time consuming and consequently more expensive.

“It’s just like bringing your car to the mechanic, you open up the envelope and you have no idea what the bill is going to be,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m accountable to the taxpayers and I believe that revisiting this for a fraction of the cost will be for the benefit of the community. If we can have a drop off location, then it turns into a $10,000 exercise and, if it encourages homeowners to perhaps not wait for a Spring Cleanup to get rid of pallets or miscellaneous items on the side of the road, well that’s a good thing too.”

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He said concerns have been raised over the amount of clutter accumulating on local streets and suggested residents have become too dependent on the Spring Cleanup to clear their yards of waste.

“It probably started off as a good measure back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, however long it’s been around, it’s just escalating to the point where it’s not just a simple little cleanup; there is a massive amount of stuff people are hoarding, waiting for Spring Cleanup and that in itself doesn’t foster clean neighbourhoods,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people concerned about how the town looks for that week. People start dragging mattresses out and they sit there on the side of the road for a week. There’s the optics of the community and there’s the cost. And, there’s a lot of people that just don’t clean up their yard because they know there’s a Spring Cleanup…They just gather things on their property and wait for the big Spring Cleanup and sometimes that can backfire. We’re trying to encourage people to stay on your garbage and don’t wait for Spring Cleanup.”

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