Now that I am downtown every morning for two hours, leading my Free Walking Tours around Queen Street and Queen’s Royal Park and St. Mark’s cemetery, it amazes me how much effort is expended to keep our precious town litter-free.
Not that long ago, garbage pickup just sort of happened. Now, it has evolved into a frenetic, noisy, and seemingly continuous project by several corporate entities. The result is a spick and span corner of our world.
The relaxing quiet of an early-morning breakfast on the outdoor patio at the Stage Coach is regularly interrupted by the big Miller Waste System garbage trucks, as they go through their gears and then idle while the men do their job.
They really give their transmissions a workout, as they criss-cross our streets. I have total faith that there is a well thought-out plan.
After picking up on Queen Street, they turn north on Regent Street down to Front Street. Occasionally, they arrive at Queen Street going south, with one of the crew jogging in front to ensure no pedestrians or dog walkers get hit.
Or they head east on Prideaux, or west on William. The current multiple road-work detours must be challenging, as they hustle to get the job done on time and within the meticulously thought-out budget.
Garbage, refuse, litter, recycling, rubbish, trash, waste, junk and debris are picked up on a complicated schedule and it seems there are predetermined routes for each involved company.
Skunks and other scavengers have to be sharp to know when it’s feeding time. Usually, they dine at night, when they have the streets pretty much to themselves.
The employees, either drivers or picker uppers, are all hard-working, pleasant and seemingly oblivious to inclement weather.
During the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter, they are on the job, moving briskly at each stop. Off and back on to the trucks, being careful not to slip on ice or snow or rain-slicked asphalt.
I always wave to them and extend a cheery greeting. Unfailingly, they smile in return and continue on their appointed rounds.
They have to be alert, with safety being job one, because some NOTLers get impatient and either tailgate or pass too closely. Near-misses are too common. Please, be respectful.
On Queen Street around the cenotaph, dashing red town vehicles keep the waste and recycling bins empty. This team is also responsible for the tasteful tidiness of our parks and, in the peak summer period, they have to hustle.
I feel a bit sorry for scavenging animals, because our town sanitation staff are conscientious almost to a fault.
May I suggest we name the orange-attired sanitation team honorary NOTL Ambassadors. Many times, when a visitor asks a question, our staff pause, and courteously answer the question, give directions or offer a suggestion. It really is a beautiful thing, eh?
We treat visitors well in our town.
And, is there another company, called GFL (Green For Life Environmental) working our streets? Does it pick up appliances and large items?
The whole complex system obviously works. Thank goodness for the workers who get the job done. What was it like a generation ago?
I still remember my mom, who grew up during the Depression and then lived her life during the Second World War and its abstemious aftermath, proudly taking food scraps and offal out to her compost pile in the back garden.
The decomposed result helped her to grow big, ripe, red tomatoes each year, and other vegetables as she desired.
Raccoons and skunks had it easy back then, not having to figure out the combination to get into our green recycling bins.
And not that long ago, eh?
I trust the waste and recycling system contracts are fair, because a lot of hard work is being done by a lot of hard-working people.