CCRA President Kathy Rowe, front, and Kathy Lalonde filled two large bags with litter in 15 minutes at the waterfront recently.

By Kathy Rowe

We all know that littering is against the law, don’t we? According to the City of Toronto bylaw, a person caught littering is subject to a fine of $365. Despite the fine and the rules against  littering, it seems like the garbage in our parks and along our community shorelines has worsened in 2018.

As our communities grow, our much-desired parks and waterfront spaces are being used more and more often. This is great, but with more use there seems to be more abuse. The city supplies ample garbage and recycling containers, yet garbage seems to be strewn all around them. So, what to do?

Community cleanups are a big help and area resident Derril Johnston is planning a shoreline cleanup for the end of September. More details will be provided later this month on the West Rouge Residents Facebook page and it will also be posted on the CCRA’s social media accounts.

But even though events like this and the one on Earth Day in April make the community look better, we have to face the fact that they are just preaching to the converted. They don’t change people’s bad habits. Perhaps we need to put this problem in the spotlight and make residents more aware of this issue with litter prevention campaigns that have the potential to actually change behaviour.

I took the time to look up anti-litter campaigns in cities around the world that have had success. All of these campaigns were heavily invested in by both the city, the private sector, educators and community residents. The initiatives involved aggressive advertising using social media, posters, stickers and education, as well as creatively decorated public garbage containers. This, of course, is a huge undertaking. Then again, the garbage in our public spaces is a huge problem.

We could all help by setting a good example when we’re out in the parks and telling our families, friends and newcomers to the city about the rules against littering — in a friendly way, of course. And it never hurts to start early with your children. If you have any ideas for stopping people from tossing their litter anywhere, please drop us a line at