Surrey’s long been referred to as the city of parks, and officials are inviting the public to help them keep those greenspaces clean.
The city is planning three Monday morning community park clean-ups in August, and they’ll run rain or shine, from 9 to 11 a.m.
“We’re inviting members of the community to come out and help us tidy up these spaces for both residents and of course visitors who visit our parks,” said Neal Aven, Surrey’s manager of parks. “We’ll supply all supplies necessary, including litter pickers, bags and gloves.”
Aven said in the summer, as parks get busier with picnickers and other visitors, “it puts a lot of pressure on our litter control system and garbage cans.”
“We certainly ask people to make sure they’re using the appropriate receptacles. One of the things I like to put out there as an ethic that we want to promote, is the adage ‘Take only pictures and leave only footprints.’ Wherever possible we can encourage people to take home what they bring to the park and that will certainly help garbage cans from potentially overflowing.”
First up is a clean-up at Hazelgrove Park (7080 190th St.) on Aug. 12, followed by another on Aug. 19 at Cloverdale Athletic Park (6410 168th Street) and another on Aug. 26 at George Greenaway Park (17906 60th Ave.).
The park cleanups have been ongoing since about June, he noted, and are part of the larger “Love Where You Live” city beautification initiative that was launched earlier this year.
“It builds pride in the community, and helps Surrey stay beautiful,” Aven said of the larger initiative. “Whether it’s roadsides or parks, it’s an easy way for people to get involved in improving the city.”
Aven also encouraged residents to organize their own neighbourhood cleanups, noting “they can get support from the city for those things.”
“People sometimes host block parties and in addition to that, why not organize a clean-up as well and connect with your neighbours to help tidy up the city.”
The Love Where You Live program officially launched in May, with a trash cleanup kickoff in North Surrey that began at Surrey City Hall’s atrium.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, council and city staff led a ‘litter clean-up day” to begin the new initiative to run from May 1 to October 30 each year, urging community groups, residents, schools and business owners to help keep the city clean.
The concept was endorsed by city council in April.
McCallum described the project as “tremendous” at the time.
“It’s also going to include, though, participation by our public and businesses,” he said at the April 15 council meeting. “We’re going to ask each of you to spend 20 minutes a week and go out around your house or around your business, or help out in the nearest park or your nearest street, just to give us 20 minutes once a week to pick up the litter.”
McCallum said residents will also see members of council out in the streets picking up litter.
“We want everyone to be involved in it so when we work together as a community, we’ll make our city a lot cleaner, and thereby helping make it safer also. I think it’s a tremendous program.”
Laurie Cavan, parks, recreation and culture general manager, said the initiative is a partnership between her department and the engineering department.
“The focus is to show the city’s commitment to clean up and to achieve this through community engagement and we’ll be providing resources for individuals to engage in clean-up whether that’s new community associations or existing organizations in the city. There will be lots more to come on that,” she said.
According to city documents, the city will introduce two new programs in September on a pilot basis “as a measure to reduce the amount of waste generated and found illegally dumped.”
On Sept. 14, a “Repair Café” is envisioned where residents can bring items that need to be repaired while working with “repair specialists.” There will be several stations including small appliances, bikes and computers and electronics.
On Sept. 21, according to the report, the city will host a “Reuse Swap Meet” for residents and businesses to recycle unwanted household items, pick up reused goods, donate to charity, reduce illegal dumping and increase waste diversion.
The city’s popular Pop-Up Junk Drop events are also now under the umbrella of the Love Where You Live program, with the final event set for Sunday (Aug. 11).
Launched in 2016, those events were organized to help curb illegal dumping in the city.
At the final junk-drop of the summer on Aug. 11, the city says people should come in as early as possible to avoid delays.
“It’s very popular this year,” said Harry Janda, Surrey’s manager of solid waste. “If you look at the numbers, we’ve seen up to 1,900 vehicles (at a single event), and overall it’s been about a 20-per-cent increase this year over 2018.”
This year, Janda said crews have seen more mattresses brought in, along with an increase in appliances, scrap metal and electronics.
Items not accepted include commercial waste, hazardous construction junk (no asbestos-containing materials), dirt, rocks, roofing materials, drywall, paints, gasoline, animal waste, lead-acid batteries, large tree stumps and hot tubs, among other stuff.
“The most important thing is asbestos-containing materials,” Janda said, “so we don’t accept any drywall whatsoever, and if we see some in a load we will turn those vehicles away. And also don’t permit vinyl flooring, ceiling tiles, propane tanks, paint solvent, pesticides and other things. Those just become a big risk and safety issue for our workers here.”
To gain entry, junk-droppers must present valid, government-issued ID to prove they live in Surrey.
Detailed information is posted on the city’s website, surrey.ca, or call 604-590-7289.
-With files from Tom Zillich, Lauren Collins