‘It’s unreal what happens here’: Winnipeggers speak out on trash-filled streets

Although summer is beginning to wind down, Winnipeggers are still taking advantage of warm August weather, enjoying the great outdoors and taking in the smell of… trash.

Residents in a number of Winnipeg neighbourhoods have flagged what they call a growing problem of garbage strewn about local streets and back alleys, and say they’re frustrated by perceived inaction by city officials to fix the situation.

Roger Daignault told Global Winnipeg a back alley in the Flora and Selkirk Avenue area has been overwhelmed with trash — mostly coming from a single residence — for years without resolution.

“I think it’s horrendous,” said Daignault, who lives nearby. “It’s an eyesore, and definitely a hazard to our children around here.

“We know someone lives there and garbage is constantly being spilled out by whoever comes out of that place. It is a constant eyesore, and this has been going on for over two years and it’s fallen on deaf ears.”

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Daignault said repeated efforts to get the city to tackle the problem have been unsuccessful, with bylaw officers promising to have the garbage cleaned, with no follow-through.

One neighbour, he said, has a toddler who can’t play in the area because of used needles mixed in with the trash.

“I’ve gone through every avenue I can. If worse comes to worse, a few of us are going to get some hazard suits and start cleaning up. That’s a last resort, and we don’t want to, but it’s a hazard. We don’t want to see children get hurt.”

Daignault said he lived in St. Boniface for four decades before moving to the North End, and the city’s response to complaints in each area has been radically different.

“When we had a little bit of garbage (in St. Boniface), it was gone in two to three days at the most, which was really awesome,” he said, “but as you see here, different area. North End is forgotten about.”

Area councillor Ross Eadie (Mynarski) told Global News the city has ordered the owners of the property to clean up the mess.

Click to play video: 'Winnipegger talks about Main Street garbage problems'

Winnipegger talks about Main Street garbage problems

Winnipegger Clement Guimond, who lives near Main Street and Dufferin Avenue, says the garbage situation in the area is out of control.

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“It’s all over … there’s nothing but garbage,” Guimond said. “It shouldn’t be happening…. It is every day.

“It’s all garbage, it’s all you see. It’s unreal what happens here. They just dump it. They just take their garbage and don’t do (anything) with it — they don’t even put it in garbage bins, they just leave it alone.

“It’s not right — not to me, anyway. These people have no respect.”

Guimond said the garbage on Main Street seems to get cleaned up in the evenings, but by the morning, new trash is already strewn about. He said he’d like to see more enforcement, potentially via Winnipeg police cadets patrolling the area.

Click to play video: 'Save Our Seine’s Ryan Palmquist on garbage and debris in river'

Save Our Seine’s Ryan Palmquist on garbage and debris in river

Trash has been an ongoing concern for more than three decades for one Winnipeg group, which has been fighting an uphill battle to keep the Seine River garbage-free since 1990.

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“Every year there’s a surprise as water levels fluctuate,” Ryan Palmquist of Save Our Seine told Global Winnipeg. “Maybe not so much a surprise as a disappointment.

“After 30 years, we have gotten a large amount of the historic trash that had taken a century to build up, but there’s always new garbage being found, every year. We are making progress, but it kind of goes to show that if the summer team didn’t operate for any given year, we would rapidly return to the situation that the Seine was in during the ’80s.”

Palmquist said when volunteers began cleaning out the Seine 30 years ago, they were pulling entire vehicles out of the river.

Even in 2023, members of the group have found oil drums, vehicle parts, industrial waste and more than 100 bags of garbage.

They’ve also removed more than 30 obstructions for paddlers, including 15 logjams this year.

Click to play video: 'Take Pride Winnipeg on garbage clogging city streets and alleys'

Take Pride Winnipeg on garbage clogging city streets and alleys

Tom Ethans, executive director of Take Pride Winnipeg, says he has a simple message for Winnipeggers who litter: cut it out.

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“Stop littering the streets of our city — make a difference. It doesn’t take much. If every person in Manitoba walked outside today and picked up one single piece of litter, that’s over a million pieces of litter off the ground.”

Ethans told Global Winnipeg that, in many cases, people see litter already accumulating in some areas, and as a result, think it’s OK to dump their trash as well.

“Everybody has to work together to make the city of Winnipeg clean and beautiful,” he said.

“It cannot just be four, five, six people. We have so many groups that go out to do litter cleanups in the spring and the summer. It’s fabulous to see them get together to do this work.”

Global News has reached out to the city about the garbage accumulating on the streets.

A city spokesperson said in an email that locations with heavy accumulations of loose garbage are first inspected by city staff to determine the best remedy for the situation, and that the work is scheduled for cleanup.

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