What was once part of a city initiative for greener neighbourhoods is now a second-hand garbage can. A Toronto man has made it his responsibility to routinely clean up this community garden that is constantly flooded with garbage.
Emil Glassbourg took over the care for a community garden when he noticed garbage accumulating in the raised planters. Glassbourg cleaned out a plethroa of garbage over the years, noticing a lot of garbage from Tim Hortons and MacDonalds. He approached the companies with a strategy that “would cost them no more than 10 dollars a week”. According to Glassbourg, they showed little interest.
“I’ve proposed to them, basically it would be 10 bucks a week for me to get a neighbor, I had a senior citizen in mind, who would be happy to pick up their garbage form the garden on a regular basis and keep the gardens clean,” said Glassbourg. After having to constantly take this garbage out of the planters, Glassbourg put a sign up specifically pointing on the restaurants responsible for the majority of the garbage.
Since the garbage was not on the property of the Tim Hortons or MacDonalds, they told Glassbourg this was none of their concern. Representatives of each company told Glassbourg that efforts have been made on their property alone to avoid garbage on the streets, mentioning that they’ve added extra garbage cans on the restaurant properties.
“I find it sad that these large corporations can get away with being irresponsible,” said Glassbourg. “I put up those signs to make it clear that they’re not good neighbours in this community.”
What Glassbourg started becoming concerned with was the lack of interest the companies were putting into the state of the community. He believes that a business, especially a big corporation, should take more responsibility for the effect they have on the community as a whole.
Glassbourg said the pods for the gardens were built as a joint initiative from the city of Toronto and Toronto Hydro. After the budget was cut a couple years back, and as a result funding for the garden was cut, Glassbourg took it upon himself to clean empty cups and paper bags out of the garden. He believes Toronto Hydro should take more concern that the pods have “began to deteriorate and become derelict”. Glassbourg did mention that Toronto Hydro has a company that comes in and shovels snow, and when asked to deal with the garden the people they hire “don’t pull out weeds, they pulled out my flowers, Echinacea Sedums.”
This community garden is located at Tecumseth and Adelaide, an area known at West Queen West. West Queen West Business Improvement Area (BIA) is part of a larger organization started in collaboration with Toronto City Council. A BIA is an organization that “has a responsibility to enhance the safety, look and feel of their neighbourhoods to attract more visitors to shop and dine, as well as to draw new businesses to their area” according to the official website, Although the organization boasts keeping the neighbourhood clean, Glassbourg didn’t approach them for help because of an understanding that the garden was out of their interest.
“BIA’s are there to supplement services offered by the city and the code requires them to spend it in their area. They can’t improve private property and they can’t do stuff outside of their boundaries,” said Mike Major, manager at the BIA office.
The garden is not within the boundaries of the West Queen West BIA and can’t be tended to under the rules of the organization. Glassbourg admitted that this isn’t necessarily a problem for the BIA to handle, but has found his attempts to contact someone who should be concerned are being ignored.