More than 1,000 volunteers pledge to clean up trash-filled Toronto ravine
Each year as winter turns to spring, melting snow reveals piles upon piles of garbage littering Toronto’s Don Valley – but a group of volunteers is hoping to change that.
The group, “Don’t Mess With the Don,” has rallied together more than 1,000 trash-pickers to help clean up the ravine on April 27.
Going forward, the goal is to keep it clean, says organizer Irene Vandertop.
“It’s like a season. It comes back every year,” Vandertop told CTV News Channel on Friday.
The watershed runs along the 38-kilometre-long Don River and is home to wildlife including deer, coyotes, skunks and rabbits. A network of trails draws runners, cyclists and hikers.
But some of those visitors have left trash in the valley, creating heaps of garbage in the natural habitat.
“These are very remote areas, very hard to reach. And we’re talking literally landfill-quality areas of 200 acres that nobody seemed to be concerned about,” Vandertop said.
Last month, the volunteer-led group put out a call on Facebook to clean up the ravine. Vandertop said she expected no more than 200 people to join.
At the moment, more than 8,000 people on Facebook have said they’re interested. Another 1,100 have registered to help via event-planning platform Eventbrite.
Due to the unexpected surge in interest, the group briefly had to stop accepting registrations.
“We thought, if this continues, we’re going to have 10,000 people coming to the Don Valley, which is not going to be effective. It will also do more harm to the ecosystems,” Vandertop said.
The cap has since been lifted, and the group said it won’t send anyone away.
In the future, the group plans to work with the city to come up with long-term solutions.
“We want to have a conversation with the city and surrounding property managers about how we can prevent this from happening in the first place, because there is a lot illegal dumping going on there and just the logistics of how people can dispose of their waste is really bad in the area where we are focused on,” she said.
“But one of the problems is really funding. There is a lack of funding to actually allocate resources towards cleaning up the area as well as enforcement of the law.”
Businesses in the area have also pledged to chip in by donating garbage bags, coffee and other accessories to help volunteers.