toronto cleanest city

Is Toronto losing its reputation as one of the world's cleanest cities?

The 1995 satirical comedy Canadian Bacon famously described Toronto as a "beautiful" city, "like Albany, only cleaner."

Almost three decades later, the paint of Toronto's sparkling reputation seems to be peeling away, with complaints mounting about public infrastructure, and even private businesses falling visibly into disrepair.

There seems to be a growing perception that the city is no longer the tidy urban paradise of yesteryear.

Years of austerity under former mayor John Tory have been blamed for persistent issues with the city's cleanliness, including frequent complaints about overflowing and broken public trash cans that contribute to litter in streets and parks.

The City has dedicated more resources to this issue since Olivia Chow was elected mayor in 2023, but broken and overflowing garbage receptacles are still a common sight on Toronto streets.

A tight budget for maintaining public spaces has also limited the operational seasons for park washrooms in recent years. Even when they're open, you run the risk of walking into a literal s**tshow of unspeakable proportions.

Then there's the issue of bed bugs. Bed bugs in hotels. Bed bugs on the TTC. Bed bugs are everywhere in Toronto, and the little bloodsuckers are more numerous in the 416 than anywhere else in the nation.

Luckily for former mayor Tory, this one can be blamed on the elimination of harmful pesticides that were causing catastrophic damage extending up the food chain.

Even private infrastructure is in visible disrepair.

Arron Barberian, proprietor of the local establishment Barberian's Steakhouse, shared a photo with blogTO of an ATM at a CIBC bank branch at Atrium on Bay. Barberian tells blogTO that the machine "was so incredibly disgusting it got me wondering if this is the most disgusting ATM in the city."

"You really have to see it in person," says Barberian, adding, "My snapshot doesn't do it justice."

toronto cleanest city

Arron Barberian.

Empirical evidence supports the general perception that Toronto is falling off in terms of cleanliness. Toronto is often described as a "cleaner New York," but data shows that notion may already be outdated.

According to World Population Review's Cleanest Cities in the World 2024, Toronto ranks as the 13th-cleanest city in the world. Toronto's Clean City Score of 67.63 was outranked by cities known for their (at least historic, more than recent) abundance of trash, graffiti and air pollution, including New York.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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