Then I wrote to the Mayor of Toronto. I advocated for a policy that reminds smokers who work for the City of Toronto not to litter their tobacco product castoffs.
"I would like to be referred to the appropriate individual in your office, the city manager’s office or the office of Toronto Fire Services to discuss what can be done to remind City of Toronto employees who smoke that the bylaw requires proper disposal and no littering of cigarette butts, particularly not on public property or in or near city vehicles and equipment, but preferably never," said my letter to Mayor John Tory dated December 4.
"I clean my street daily in an ongoing experiment to see if I can make it and keep it litter-free. While it is the cleanest street in Toronto, litter continues to find its way onto the street day in, day out. That speaks of broader problems of lack of education, awareness, effort and enforcement. Could someone speak to me about this, please?"
A pretty straightforward request, I thought, as I mailed the letter and put it out of my mind. Having run a mayor's office before I admit I have an exacting standard when it comes to communications. So I was less than impressed to receive a response four months later, an unsigned letter from Sincerely, Mayor's Administration dated April 1, 2019. Was this some kind of April Fool's joke? Did the Mayor of Toronto even see my letter?
After thanking me for taking the time to write to the Office of the Mayor (well, actually, I wrote to John Tory), the Administration goes on to apologize for the delay in responding. "We received a high volume of correspondence from residents in recent months."
"We have forwarded your concerns to the Deputy City Manager, Chief of Fire Services and the General Manager of Solid Waste Management for their review and action. They have informed our office that they would follow up with their staff members in regards to littering, especially after you brought this incident to our attention." (Hey, looks good on paper, nice-sounding words, but how do I know this was ever done? Any Toronto employee who was told by city management not to litter, please contact me.)
"We have also forwarded your suggestion of having a city-wide campaign or policy to ensure city staff do not litter, to senior staff in our office for their consideration." (That's code for saying, 'your idea is being shoved to the furthest corner of someone's messy desk and will never again see the light of day.')
There was no further follow up from the mayor's office. If they had looked out their city hall windows at the mess visitors left behind after the Toronto Raptors NBA Championship rally, maybe in hindsight they're understanding that an ongoing litter prevention campaign is a winning strategy, not a ball to dodge.