Capital cleanup aims for extra shine to mark Canada 150

By Cassandra Plourde

The expected surge in tourists this year for Canada’s 150th anniversary has raised the stakes for Ottawa’s annual spring garbage cleanup campaign.

Organizers for “GLAD Cleaning the Capital,” a month-long campaign that encourages teams of volunteers to pick up litter or remove graffiti, are hoping residents will take the celebration as an opportunity to register this year.

“We have so many more people coming to visit Ottawa this year to help celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, so the more people we can get out there helping us to keep Ottawa looking awesome, the better it will be for us as residents as well as for all of those visitors who are coming from all over the world to enjoy our wonderful city,” said Leslie Vanclief, one of the campaign’s organizers.

The spring clean-a-thon runs from April 15 to May 15, with a “Capital Cleanup Weekend” scheduled for April 28-30. Already, over a dozen projects have been registered in Centretown, and over 375 citywide.

Teams can register to receive a cleanup starter kit, which includes all of the necessary supplies to assist with their projects.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney said the campaign offers an opportunity for everyone in a neighbourhood to get out and reconnect with one another.

“It’s important for the whole city, and it’s an opportunity for residents to help clean up the capital and our neighbourhoods,” McKenney said.

“In the downtown we don’t have a lot of green space, so it’s good to keep it clean and make sure we have people coming out enjoying the days together.”

The annual spring cleanup campaign began in 1994, and an additional fall cleanup was added in 2006.

Participation has grown from 3,000 people in 1994 to 70,000 in recent years, said Vanclief.

According to city records, more than one million volunteers have participated in some 17,000 cleanup projects over the years. As a result, an estimated 930,000 kilograms of waste has been removed from public spaces throughout Ottawa.

“The residents of Ottawa have told us they love how Ottawa is so clean and green and they want to help us to keep Ottawa that way,” said Vanclief.