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Clean sweeping the streets
Annual community clean-up expected to net 350 to 400 bags of garbage

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 14, 2012

Though the annual community clean-up has officially ended, volunteers continue their work cleaning up tons of garbage scattering the streets.

NNSL photo/graphic

Carolyn Hunter holds open a garbage bag while her nine-year-old son, Sam Skinner, throws away some trash he found near the Bompas Street and Stringer Road area on Monday. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

The goal of the long-standing clean-up, which is organized and funded by the Town of Inuvik, is to clean the mess left behind once all of the winter snow has melted away, said Tony Devlin, director of community services for the town.

The clean-up area includes the entire town, apart from private property and industrial areas, and the Boot Lake trail. This area was divvied up into 13 smaller zones, which 11 non-profit groups from around town signed on to clean up. Upon completion, the town will pay each group $400 per zone it helped clean, said Devlin.

While the clean-up officially ran between June 3 and June 9, community members could still be found this week cleaning more trash out of their zones.

The unofficial deadline for the clean-up is the beginning of the Inuvik Petroleum Show, said Devlin.

The Town of Inuvik provided each group with garbage bags and gloves. Volunteers then took to the streets, paths, ditches and bushes, picking up whatever trash they could find.

Anne Church, who helped organize the Food Bank crew for this year's clean up, said that she chose to become involved in order to help a service that she finds important, and also just for the pleasure of seeing less garbage around town.

"I prefer going around looking at something that's cleaned up rather than full of garbage," she said. "And, I think, we get a lot of visitors in Inuvik and I think it gives a better image."

When they arrived at their zone near Bompas Street and Stringer Road on Monday, Food Bank clean-up volunteers were a bit surprised by the amount of garbage they found, said Church. The team found a number of items, from wrappers and bottles to scraps of leather to playing cards and hockey sticks, she said.

"In some of those areas that are off the beaten track, sometimes you find the most interesting things," agreed Devlin.

Once the trash was bagged, the volunteers called in to the town and trucks were sent to the area to pick up all the items. In total, about 350 to 400 bags of garbage were expected to be collected during the clean-up, said Devlin.

For a town of just over 3,500 residents, this is a lot of trash, but Devlin disagrees that more littering takes place here than other areas.

"We just see it all at once because of the fast melt, I think," he said. "We live in a snow belt and, of course, over the course of a winter things get lost in the snow drifts. So, we find that once the snow melts, unlike bigger cities where you've got that regular maintenance ... there are piles of garbage where the snow melted."

This year, there are a few bigger items sitting around town because of strong storms over the winter including the storm on Jan. 17 when high winds damaged many buildings around town and blew a shower stall down Mackenzie Road to where it still sits in front of Al Fourno Restaurant.

"Certainly there was probably more siding and two-by-fours and things like that, that we discovered this year," said Devlin.

One of the biggest changes noted by clean-up crews is a lack of plastic bags for the past two years, since they have become regulated and charged for around the town, said Devlin.

"You used to see them hanging off trees and in the strangest places," he said. "We've certainly seen that drop considerably during the last two years."

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