Dirty neighbourhoods Toronto

Toronto plans to clean up dirty downtown neighbourhoods

Toronto is getting hotter by the day as we head into summertime proper, which means more festivals, more tank tops, more patio time and, unfortunately, more gagging on the smell of garbage and/or pee.

Come on, you know it's true. Toronto is a very clean place in some ways, but the warmer it gets outside, the grosser — and more dangerous — things seem to get in public spaces.

The City of Toronto announced on Wednesday that it would be making a concerted effort moving forward to "take action" in several downtown neighbourhoods that are believed to have "problems" in this regard.

"Toronto is a safe city and a clean city but that doesn't mean there aren't problems we need to address," said Mayor Tory in the press release announcing an "immediate action plan to bolster services in the Downtown East area."

"It is my job as Mayor to bring everyone at City Hall and local stakeholders together to come up with a plan to work quickly and fix these problems."

The plan he speaks of, developed in collaboration with Toronto Police Services; Toronto Public Health; Ryerson University; the Downtown Yonge BIA; Councillor Lucy Troisi and Councillor Wong-Tam, started rolling out last weekend.

Among other things, it directs city staff to "significantly step up cleaning of streets, laneways and parks" in the Downtown East area, focusing on "hotspot neighbourhoods" like Yonge-Dundas, Sherbourne and Dundas, Cabbagetown, St. Jamestown and Regent Park.

The press release states that parks staff will be increasing access to city washrooms and shower facilities in at least two "hotspots," and that waste collection will be increased at five "hotspot" area parks.

Yonge-Dundas Square, in particular, will see litter collection service increased from twice per day to three times a day.

Toronto Police will also be upping its presence in the area, with at least one detective and three uniformed officers "deployed for the night shift" in and around Yonge-Dundas Square.

"This is a vibrant neighbourhood where families live but it is also an area with large vulnerable populations and a concentration of social services," said Wong-Tam in the release. 

"We must ensure proper resources are in place to deal with the needs of this diverse and growing population."

To that effect, six "park ambassadors" will work with the City's Streets to Homes program to support homeless individuals with services and shelter. Toronto Public Health will also conducting outreach for two hours a day covering a four-block radius around The Works at 277 Victoria Street all summer.

"Downtown East is delivering the lion share of social services for Toronto," explained Wong-Tam on Twitter Wednesday evening. 

"We need to see investments come into the community as soon as possible. This summer. More outreach workers, more garbage pickup, more programs and services for everyone, the homeless and the housed."

Lead photo by

Frank Lemire

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