With the removal of ice storm tree debris from city streets well underway, some cleanup crews will move to city parks. Approximately 70 per cent of street tree debris has been cleared, allowing reallocation of some crews to start cleaning up the City's 1,600 parks. Solid Waste Management Services continues to lead this two-pronged approach and Forestry crews will continue to tend to overhead branches that are a safety hazard on the streets and within parks.
"I am very proud of the hard work of our dedicated crews. We are on schedule and well into the final stages of our cleanup operations. To be this far along, just weeks from our launch date of January 3, shows us great results are possible when we all pull together to get the job done," said Mayor Rob Ford.
The park cleanup begins today across the City with crews initially assigned to one park within each of Toronto's 44 wards. Based on staff assessment, parks that sustained the most damage from the storm will be cleared first.
"Toronto has the proud distinction of being a city within a park. It's important that we now turn our attention to restoring our valued green spaces so they may continue to flourish and be enjoyed by future generations," said Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly (Ward 40 Scarborough Agincourt).
"The co-ordinated effort is working well. We will now apply this approach to making the parks safe again so the public can utilize the walking trails, exercise their dogs and do other winter activities like snowshoeing and skiing," said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34 Don Valley East), Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.
The same approach that has worked well for the street cleanup will be used in parks. Crews of City staff and contractors will collect and chip most branches onsite. Larger limbs and debris will be removed and taken to one of the City's temporary sites for grinding. The resulting chipped or ground wood will ultimately be used as a mulch ground cover or incorporated with other leaf and yard waste for processing into compost.
It is important for property owners to set out all remaining wood debris eligible for collection now. Residents should check the online Street Debris Cleanup Map and if their area is coloured either yellow or green and they still have debris set out, this means they may have missed their zone's collection and need to call 311 by February 3 to request a pickup. Any tree debris not reported to 311 by February 3 will be picked up when the City begins leaf and yard waste collection on March 11. Branches must be put out in small bundles no longer than 1.2m (4 feet) in length and 0.6m (2 feet) in width. Alternatively, residents may hire a contractor to remove the wood debris or take it themselves to one of the City's six transfer stations' drop-off depots.
Residents can monitor the progress of debris removal from the streets and in the parks by checking the Debris Cleanup Maps posted on the City’s website at http://bit.ly/Klp1Tf.
Green zones on the parks maps indicate ground debris removal is complete. However, there could still be limbs hanging in trees which are potential hazards. This aspect of the cleanup will take longer to complete.