Leaf sweeping around drains on our streets — no longer on City’s to-do list

By Christine Aubry

If you are like me, you rejoice at the sight of the City’s big sweepers driving down our streets in the spring—a sure sign the long winter is over!

But Sandy Hill resident Michael Barnes has noticed that the City does little to no leaf sweeping in the fall and asked IMAGE to find out the City’s official street cleaning protocol for the fall.

I received the following written statement from Bryden Denyes, Area Manager, Roads Services:

“The Maintenance Quality Standards indicate that street sweeping on residential streets is only performed during the spring clean-up program; and spot sweeping as required. The sweeping program is not intended for leaf pick-up. Leaves fill the sweeping units very quickly (which requires more frequent dumping) and are very heavy (they retain a lot of moisture) which significantly increases our costs for sweeping disposal. It was found that snow clearing/removal generally removes the bulk of leaf debris from the roadway throughout the winter months.”

While this may seem like a logical, cost-saving policy for the City, Michael’s concern is that “some areas become a somewhat soggy mess for part of the fall, winter and spring, especially when the street drains are blocked after rain and/or a big thaw in the winter. It is neither pleasant nor safe.”

He suggests that “more active leaf cleaning by residents in front of their properties, especially over drains, would resolve the problem.” Unfortunately, we know all too well that not everyone living in Sandy Hill is concerned with the maintenance of their property, let alone the roads and sidewalks. (Don’t get me started on garbage problems!) Nonetheless, maybe the City could squeeze out a few dollars for a communication strategy to inform property owners that there is no street cleaning in the fall, so the many residents who do care can grab their rakes and pitch in (and while they are at it, the City could remind landlords and tenants of property maintenance rules and fines).