Letter to the Mayor of Toronto and his inner circle - what do you think of the ideas?
To The Mayor & Members of the Executive Committee
City of Toronto
Toronto City Hall
RE: Agenda Item EX12.1, Jan. 23, 2020 Ravine Strategy Implementation
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I am pleased to see a report advocating action on litter and invasive species in ravines. I wish to make a few points with respect to this.
Cleaning up is one of a package of actions required to prevent litter. Using volunteers, cleaning up is the least expensive part of litter prevention. Adding a focused staff effort to the upkeep of ravines is commendable and needed, but what then?
The other planks of litter prevention are more costly and complex because they deal with behavioural change. They include ongoing messaging, enforcement, a year-round plan, implementation of the existing fine structure, bin maintenance.
With respect to invasive species, in my neighbourhood alone, Dog-Strangling Vine has taken over portions of our local woodlot and has severely contaminated a number of private, commercial and public properties. Dog-Strangling Vine (DSV) is a known threat to the Monarch Butterfly.
I was able to stuff 30 oversized garbage bags of DSV cut down from these properties and dispose of them at no cost thanks to help from our city parks supervisor, but this doesn’t begin to make a dent on the overall problem. Awareness of this provincially identified invasive species of plant is very, very low. Toronto needs to alert residents on the management of Dog-Strangling Vine and other invasive species.
In my opinion the City lacks communication on these issues. There is no proactive body looking to deal with littering as a specific social problem that needs to be addressed. There is a lack of programs and information that could assist individuals and community groups in their desire to keep communities clean and free of unwanted, invasive varieties of non-native plants.
I have several suggestions for building on the advocacy that is inherent in the staff report. It is my hope that there are some anti-litter champions on Toronto Council who will move these ideas forward as formal recommendations. Namely,
- Look into using camera technology for litter law enforcement on the roads,
- Use fines collected for litter prevention and abatement,
- Study the formation of a broader education and enforcement effort, a blitz by police, for example, or patrolling green wardens,
- Provide stock information through website and council member newsletters,
- Adopt an email litter prevention tag line, such as “Please help keep our City Litter Free”, a slogan found at the end of all emails from Brantford Deputy Mayor, Councillor John Utley,
- Investigate forming a Mayor’s Litter Cabinet, involving citizens, staff, retailers and product makers, to address litter prevention on an ongoing basis,
- Develop ways and means to make it free and easy for citizens to dispose of litter and invasive plants they collect,
- Develop information on how to abate Dog-Strangling Vine and distribute it to community groups citywide.
Thank you for taking the time to read this submission and consider the ideas presented.