This is the new Regent Park. I survey the sports field, and note the Don’t Litter handmade sign on a can near the fence. A fence line without a trace of debris, one is hard pressed to find a single cigarette butt among the flowers in the concrete planters. The community’s extraordinary manager tells us the scene is the result of three weeks of work by residents. By the time Toronto’s scantily publicized clean up rolled around, Regent Park was already looking good.
We toured the garbage rooms, the best and the worst. These new buildings win green certification for their efforts at waste handling. The biggest problem there is convincing the city to haul away all the organic waste they collect, an issue not covered in the housing company’s agreement with its private hauler, Miller Waste.
Organics, for now, are being dumped. What a waste of Regent Park’s state-of-the-art, three-stream sorting system. Residents separate food waste and other organics at source only to have them mingled with garbage and buried at the end of the process.
In the garbage rooms yet to be renovated, a floor is baited with rat traps. Three big rats present themselves to us and scurry up red water pipes and into the darkness. A sign reminds workers to pick up the rat traps before hosing down the floor.
When he first arrived on the job, our host says, the pipe fittings resembled a rat conveyer belt as streams of the rodents ran around them for fifteen minutes straight as he stood there.
Yes, let’s deal with those organics, get them composted and back into the beds of Regent Park’s community and rooftop gardens. The City of Toronto was to cover off all its high-rise residential buildings with an organics program, but there are 4,000 buildings and thousands still to sign on. Regent Park will be empowered to reach its full sustainability goals once the city catches up as it should.
Footnote: The head of Toronto’s solid waste division, Jim Harnum, left unexpectedly for a new job in Peel Region in April, creating a vacancy and a vacuum of leadership at the head of that department.