Saturday, January 8, 2011

Whats With All The Garbage In The Lane?

I have been noticing the dumpsters in my back lane get piled higher and higher with bags of garbage this last week. Yes, bags of garbage. What is it that is so odd about that? Well, I do not normally see garbage bags. I think I mentioned this regarding the Christmas garbage found in my lane this year. So, what is going on? Is it winter, and we are all using garbage bags now? And the amount of garbage. We had our dumpsters emptied last week, so the great piles of bags filling, and over-filling our dumpsters is for this one week. For a while I thought maybe someone moved out of the neighbourhood, and dumped all their unwanted garbage in the dumpsters. But the garbage does not fit for that. I do not see great piles of clothes, toys, furniture, and misc. garbage in and around the dumpsters. All I see is large piles of bags. There are the large black garbage bags, and smaller grocery store and dollarstore bags. So, whats up with all the bags?

During the summer, there was one week when there was no illegal dumping. The dumpsters were only half full. Then I look at the absolutely overloaded dumpsters this last week. I can only assume that some of this garbage has come from outside my group of neighbours. Although I did not witness any cars or trucks driving down the lane, depositing their unwanted bags of refuse, I do not know how else to explain the huge piles of garbage, conveniently packaged in bags.
Then Thursday can and went, and the garbage remained in the dumpsters. Since starting this blog, I have had the dumpsters in my lane emptied every Thursday, and I mean every Thursday. Even last Thursday, right after Christmas, the dumpsters were emptied. But not this week. The truck did drive down my lane, but it passed the overfilled dumpsters. Not one dumpster in my lane got emptied. I notified 311 that the truck came by, and did not empty any of the dumpsters, and also stated that it was possible the truck was full, and was not able to take the garbage. Then, early Friday morning, the garbage truck arrived and emptied the dumpsters.
When I did my back lane walk yesterday, I saw the remains of garbage around the dumpsters and on the ground. There is garbage strewn all over the back lane. This is because the dumpsters were so overfilled that the garbage did not all make it into the garbage truck. And I am sure some of the garbage had fallen from the dumpster prior to the truck arriving, or was deposited beside an already overfilled dumpster.
So now my back lane is filled with garbage. Some is still in partially destroyed garbage bags, and some garbage bags are still intact. Other garbage is loose and spread over the lane, beside and under the dumpsters, and down the lane.
I have been picking up some of the garbage, even though my husband is concerned for my safety. There could be needles or any number of other dangerous items in the bags I am picking up. But I am trying to be careful, picking up edges of loose plastic on the bags, hoping to not touch the contents in any way. A few of the neighbours I have talked to are also trying to clean up some of this garbage spread through the lane, but there is so much. And some of it should not be touched without proper protective clothing. So, I have notified 311 of the conditions of the lane and asked for the assistance of the Waste Management people in cleaning the garbage.
Maybe we need the security cameras in our back lanes, to protect our dumpsters from garbage criminals. I don't think anyone from my lane is responsible for this horrid mess that we must now clean up. And as outsiders drive past, all they see is how the North End residents have no respect for their property and keep such disgusting back lanes. But what I see is myself and a few other responsible neighbours out cleaning up someone else's mess. I see the North End cleaning up some other person's garbage.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Youth Of Our Neighbourhoods

I spent my morning at City Hall today. I was particularly interested in the report regarding Early Intervention Programs with the Youth Advocate Program. This program targets kids under 12 who come in contact with the Police. When a child under 12 is involved in a crime punishable under the criminal code, they cannot be charged because of their young age. Instead, this program would allow a Police Liason to get in touch with the family of the young person, and offer the entire family participation in a program that will offer recreation options to the family unit. The "Turnabout Program" has been in place since October 2002. I found an article regarding its early success
It was mentioned that some families outright refuse the offer. But some families have taken the Police, and the Province up on the offer of a better life. These are entire families that can change their paths, and do something positive for themselves and others around them.
The program uses an already existing fee waiver program that is offered in the Leisure Guide to families with low incomes, and will not cost tax payers any more money, if I understand that correctly.
There were a few things brought up in the meeting, regarding the limitations of the program. It does not currently address older youth once they reach the age of 12. Some parents are just not interested in signing their families up for the program. And there needs to be more done in assisting at-risk youth than just offering younger youths recreation programs.
What I see is a great start. I want to see the statistics that come out of this "Turnabout" program. Then I want to see more initiatives like this for families with at-risk youth to turn their lives around.
I also want to see communities take an active interest in their children and youth. For myself, I know of some kids on my block that are not in a good situation. I see them get into trouble throughout the summer, and sometimes call the Police regarding mischief issues. As a neighbour I can take action in many ways. I can hold their landlord accountable for ensuring the outside of their residence is well maintained. This can provide a positive environment for the child to play in the summer. I can make sure the back lanes and streets are clean and free of garbage. This will show the child that people care about their environments. As a concerned member of my community I can also work to make sure there are programs for the kids in the area to take advantage of.
Children are not just the responsibility of the parent, they are the responsibility of the community. If we see children at risk, we should act in whatever way we have to make their lives better. We may not be able to knock on their door, but we can make subtle changes that affect their lives on a daily basis.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Youth Advocate Program, An Early Intervention Program

I was checking the scheduled meetings at City Hall for the week a few days ago, and noticed the Standing Policy Committee on Protection and Community Services will be having their first meeting of the New Year on Thursday morning. On the agenda, among other things, is "Early Intervention Programs - Youth Advocate Program" ( ).
I had a look at the report, and it looks like Winnipeg is modelling this program from one in Halifax. The information on the City of Winnipeg website has a link to a 13 page document, which provides some insight into the Program.
There are three recommendations in the report as follows:
1. That the City of Winnipeg Community Services Department provide free recreational opportunities to children and families involved with the Province of Manitoba's Turnabout Program in Winnipeg which provides services to youth under the age of 12 years who have been in conflict with the law or are at risk.
2. That the City of Winnipeg in partnership with the Province of Manitoba Department of Justice conduct further analysis with respect to identifying any gaps in crime prevention services and supports for youth aged 12-14 years who have been in conflict with the law or are at risk.
3. That the Public Service report back to Council in one year on how the investment in recreation services has helped to improve outcomes for children served by Province of Manitoba's Turnabout Program.
Well, from the standpoint of a citizen living in the North End, this sounds great.
On the news today, Police Chief McCaskill made mention of youth as young as 10 years old being caught for stealing cars. He said they cannot be charged criminally because they are so young.
When you hear of crimes taking place from children so young, that is the sound of a City crying for help. The crime is not committed in isolation. The crime is committed as the result of a damaged environment.
We have to all work together to correct the damage. Whether it is picking up garbage to make our world cleaner, or helping young children to find more positive ways to spend their time, its all a step in the right direction.
And I am for taking that step.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Building Communities Initiative Not Going To North End? Why Not?

I decided to have a look on the internet today to see where grant money goes and how the City decides to spend money they advertise as Community Building, rejuvenating older neighbourhoods, providing safer areas, and that sort of thing.
I came across the "Building Communities Initiatives II Partnership between the Province (Selinger) and the City (Katz). The approved projects for Phase I (2010-2012) show several communities, including Mynarski Ward, the Ward that includes the North End and goes from the Red River to Arlington St, from the CP rail lines to Kildonan Park. There are four projects approved so far for Mynarski Ward. They are the Tanner Tot Lot, Weinberg Tot Lot, Newton Tot Lot, and Vince Leah C.C. Athletic Field Improvements. These are all located north of Leila. Not one project for this Community Building Initiative is scheduled for the North End. The information can be found at
The Building Communities Initiatives I (2002-2008) did have projects in the North End, but were limited to the Luxton Area, East of Main St between Redwood Ave and Armstrong Ave (2 streets North of Leila). That's not quite the heart of the North End. It's more like where the rich folk live.
Did City Hall erase the heart of the North End off their map? Is the North End listed as a crater, or a black hole on their map? Is it a piece of the city that warrants no assistance from an initiative designed to assist older neighbourhoods? Or am I missing something here?
I am new at this, so if I have read it wrong, or didn't get the complete picture, please fill me in. But to me it seems the North End is not getting any help here. This is supposed to be an initiative to help older communities. The City of Winnipeg site says "The goal of BCI is to improve local community infrastructure that will benefit older neighbourhoods, and contribute to the vitality, safety and health of communities throughout the city." So why not help the North End?
I just want to know who decides where the money goes. Or who is supposed to ask for the funding? Or how do these initiatives really work? I just want to understand this a little better. Thats all I want for today.