Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Plant Flowers not Garbage this summer

The corner of the street near our house has always been a magnet for garbage and dumping.

The street is adjacent to the SRY Rail Link train line and when we moved here 20 years ago the property next to the tracks was a tangle of blackberry vines, weeds and embedded garbage.

A few years ago we requested that the area be cleared of trash and blackberries and my family and I planted as many wildflower seeds as possible. The first year at what we call Side Track Park was magnificent with it's purple and white wallflowers.

Later on in the season there were foxgloves, columbines and more.

We made seed bird and volcanoes (seed bombs) which was a really fun project. Click here for more on that.

Last year the railroad came through and cleared all the small trees and underbrush trackside. They left behind clumps of dirt and bare bits where trees were yanked out unceremoniously. I took advantage of this and tossed foxglove seeds and honesty plant and whatever else I had on hand. 

I had forgotten all about it until I walked past recently and discovered the wonder of what had sprouted.

Click any of these pictures to see them larger. The variety of  whites and pinks of the foxgloves is great.

Yes we still have to pick up at least weekly (sometimes daily) to keep the trash from overwhelming the flowers. I do think that some people now think twice before throwing their trash onto the flowers.

Keep Canada Clean

Plant Flowers not Garbage this summer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More new construction, Same old trash

All over Surrey are signs for new development and new construction.

Accompanying these signs is always the ubiquitous dumping and trash that will only increase once these properties are full of residents.

As I walked down 64 Avenue around King George Boulevard, property after property had signs for Panorama development and dumps of construction worker vests, measuring tapes, workboots as well as the always present children's toys, plastic jugs, bags of clothing and plant pots.

Once development is finished the leftovers of realtor signs, balloons, ribbons and flyers spread out from these sites like a ugly rash across Surrey.

Once I get into my own neighborhood, the construction sites are smaller, but even more trashy. Workers casually toss aside their fast food containers and cups, cigarette buts and packaging, as well as many other items which are not construction related. The scattered litter and garbage is an eyesore and  gets blown to other properties by the wind.  Sites which do have fencing, seem to have free reign to fill it with pizza boxes, drink cups and fast food trash.
Construction buckets and jugs of mostly empty liquids, face masks, tar paper, roof shingles, nails and everything else gets tossed aside, both on their property, on adjacent properties and on the street. We all know construction sites are messy, but garbage should not blow through the streets and I should not have to step over dangerous materials on the sidewalk or streetside.  Hazardous substances should not be entering our waterways because of this careless behavior.

Stricter compliance to the unsightly property by-laws for businesses and contractors should be enforced. I feel building sites should not pass building inspections if they are in violation of the unsightly property by-laws on any of their properties or holdings.

We need to eliminate this bad habit of tossing litter on the ground.
Spread the word. Keep Canada Clean.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Unsightly in Surrey

I went to see a part of Bear Creek that no one pays much attention to, but I got distracted by garbage... the creek will have to wait.

Surrey's  By Law 16393 - Surrey Property Maintenance and Unsightly Premises defines "Unsightly" as follows.

(a) the accumulation of junk, filth, litter, brush, discarded materials, refuse, rubbish, garbage or graffiti;
(b) fences characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling or rusting;
 (c) landscaping that is dead, characterized by uncontrolled growth or lack of maintenance, or is damaged; 
(d) a lowering in quality of the condition or appearance of a building or structure or parts thereof characterized by holes, breaks, rot, crumbling, cracking, peeling, rusting or any other evidence of physical decay or neglect or excessive use or lack of maintenance; or 
(e) any other similar conditions of disrepair and deterioration regardless of the condition of other properties in the neighbourhood. 

Around 130 Street and 86 Avenue plenty of  Unsightly property is available to view.

Oil jugs, milk jugs, mattresses, fast food litter, dumped household trash and more.

Not even Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar can avoid the trash that accumulates.
So does it matter?  Should I care how other people keep their properties? Should I just mind my own business and also turn a blind eye to it all?  After all, I don't live in this exact neighborhood, I don't frequent the gurdwara or this truck lot photographed back in Dec. 2011 (it's still a mess).

I've decided it does matter.

Garbage has become normal scenery at these businesses. Employees who work at these businesses come home to my neighborhood and practice the same careless littering and trashy habits that make my neighborhood unsightly. All of us practice willfully ignoring the litter we see on the streets. The worshipers I see walking to the gurdwara past these properties choose to ignore the trash. Once they come home they continue to ignore the trash in front of their own house. The fish and oceans suffer because of  the run off from the truck parking lots. The trash and scattered food provides food and nesting areas for the rats that scurry through our streets at night. I could go on about the negative effects on our community and society, but everyone already knows all of that, right?
The Unsightly property pictured here at 128 St. and 96B Ave. is actually city property. It is not out in the middle of nowhere. I drive past it a lot.

People walk past daily, yet weeks and months go by and the trash accumulates. No one wants to play bad guy or go through the hassle to call the city and report infractions. Most people don't want to confront their neighbours.

I ask very little of my community. Pick up the garbage in front of your home, learn how to drive safely and respectfully, don't lie, cheat or steal, don't cuss and fight out on the street and don't abuse your wife or children. Other than that, I would prefer to leave everyone alone to do what they want.

I'm tired of Surrey's image as Vancouver's cheap ugly sister. I want things to change on the west side of Surrey, and this by-law isn't doing the job. There has to be a better way.

Sometimes I just have to look up and take a deep breath.
Then I ask myself, what can I do to make this better?

Next week I plan to be agitating for the cleanup of the beginnings of Bear Creek which runs between 84 and 86 Ave. on the west side of Surrey. Hopefully it will be as successful as the other waterways cleanup that got done in 2012. More info here.

Some of you may choose to report an Unsightly property you know about. You can call the by-law department at 604-591-4370,  Click here to report a problem on the city website, or download the city's  Service Request App for your smartphone. You can also Twitter #litter #SurreyBC at KeepCanadaClean with your pictures.

By Law 16393 - Surrey Property Maintenance and Unsightly Premises
2.1 No owner or occupant of property within the City of Surrey shall permit or allow the property to become or remain unsightly.
2.2 No person shall place graffiti or cause graffiti to be placed on any sidewalk, wall, building, fence, sign or any other structure or surface.
2.3 No owner or occupant of property within the City of Surrey shall cause or permit water, rubbish or noxious, offensive or unwholesome matter to collect or accumulate around the property.
2.4 No person shall deposit or throw bottles, broken glass or other rubbish in any open place in the City of Surrey.

Now is the time to Spring Clean Surrey.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Playing Tag on Scott Road

Some weeks ago, a stretch of Scott Road was tagged extensively.

This small strip mall at Scott Road (120 Street) and  90 Avenue has been hit repeatedly with tagging in the past.

The businesses are responsible for clearing up this tagging, but it must get tiresome to paint over and over again.

Part of the problem in reporting these tags is that each location's vandalism is handled by a different agency. Garbage bins by the garbage company, BC Hydro boxes and poles by them, private owners for the buildings. What the city does, I don't know. I see by law officer cars driving around all the time, yet I don't see many by-laws being enforced. It's very difficult to see how the city is properly managing anything in this area.

This market has long been a target of tagging. This is one location I think a public mural with bright colors and detailed patterns would be attractive and would make it difficult for taggers to make an impression. Please visit the Street Art for Surrey Page for more info.
Sometimes when I walk along Scott Road  I feel I'm in a third world country. Especially when I go around behind the stores where the garbage is spread out and nothing is ever clean. 

When I take these photographs, I am very aware of the lone tall trees in the distance. They are a symbol to me of what Canada could be, but down here on this level, all I see is trash and vandalism.
 It's not the tags that really concern me. Yes, tagging is irritating, costly and ugly.

It's the community and business owner's ability to ignore the litter and vandalism around them. 
 It's the fact that trash and ugliness have become part of Surrey culture.

And no-ones cleaning it up. Not my neighbors, not the business owners, and not the city.
That's what bothers me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Is 13 months too long?

It's 2013. Two thousand and thirteen. Twenty Thirteen.

I've been photographing garbage for 13 months. I could probably find 13 things that have remained in place for all that time. But that would make me obsessive and I have better things to do with my life. So here's a few items photographed 13 months ago, and how they appear now.

December 2011. A child's chair. Dumped next to Prince Charles Elementary, on Robson Park land, walked past by many many people on 100 Avenue every day.

January 2013. This chair is alongside a blocks worth of old carpet, dumped bundles of community newspapers, garbage bags full of who knows what, more fast food cups and a few dollars worth of cans and bottles.
December 2011. Same location, bag of gross hanging in a tree.

January 2013. The last time this stretch of land was cleared of trash was when I called sometime in the spring  or summer of 2011. It's park land. This means there must be no yearly regular maintenance of our park land.

December 2011. Sign in a ditch near my home. This real estate agent actually e-mailed me because I mentioned her by name in my blog. I told her where the sign was and that she could come pick it up any time.

January 2013. I never heard back and the sign is still there.

December 2011. Bajwa signs littered the roads for months. I e-mailed and twittered Mr. Bajwa but never heard back.

January 2013. At least one sign still remains.

December 2011. Vote YES. At a popular dump site that irked me into action and merited an article in the Leader.
January 2013. The property got mostly cleaned but YES is still there. Along with a new collection of dumped items, but that's another story.
I say Yes, 13 months is too long for garbage to lie around before anyone picks it up. It's time to Spring Clean Surrey!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday on a Foggy Surrey Corner

Sunday was an extremely foggy day around our house. I stepped out into the street wanting to take a pretty picture of the trees receding into the fog. But as usual...street litter was in my way. We pick up this 100 meters of road at least once a week, sometimes more often, but the flow of trash never ends.

Today I decided to photograph all of it. Ten fast food cups, multiple plastic straws, 1 milk-to-go, a golden party cup and a cigarette package.

Multiple bus passes, another cigarette package & plastic wrapping, too many cigarette butts to count.

One bag of leftovers from a takeout meal, gum & tootsie roll wrapping, burger wrapping and chip bag, 3 Tim Horton's lids and a foil wrapped package of unidentified food.

A plastic garbage bag, more than 2 rubber bands, a ziplock baggie, beer can, trojan packaging and several used tissues. Don't forget the rag that has been traveling down the street for weeks, now in front of my neighbors driveway.

A dump of seven plastic containers of old food, with the prime suspects being the basement renters across the street that just came back from a lengthy overseas trip. So I picked up all the garbage while that basement renter watched. I did not pick up the rag in my neighbors driveway.

I finally got to take my photo, but I have to say I'm unhappy that once again, I was the dupe forced to pick up after all those Surrey residents who trash our city. I'm also still looking for a good way to ask people to stop littering on this corner. It's our home and it's beautiful here, please Keep Canada Clean.
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