Traft Teleske proudly describes himself as a “bit of a clean freak.”
He likes to wander his Sapperton neighbourhood and pick up litter so it doesn’t get out of hand.
“I do the block from time to time just picking up things kids drop or crows,” Teleske said. “Just random things that people step over for days until I pick it up. Garbage begets garbage. If it looks like a dump it will be treated like one.”
Teleske takes it so seriously that he keeps the business owners near his home on their toes by keeping track of how clean they keep properties. One day this past spring, Teleske noticed several businesses behind his house had garbage piling up.
“I was rooting through the pile and taking pictures,” he said. “A gentleman came out from one of the businesses and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was a homeowner across the lane and I was tired of looking at an ever-increasing of pile of garbage in my lane. I told him that the people that were leaving the garbage weren’t smart enough to take their names and addresses off the junk they left there and I was reporting it to the city. About half an hour later, the pile was being loaded into a truck and has not returned.”
Teleske was so appreciative, he told the owner of one of the businesses that he would personally help out by cleaning up, including mowing and weed eating.
I present this background in order to get across just how seriously Teleske takes the job of caring for his neighbourhood.
Armed with this context, you can understand how upsetting it was when he was out for a walk one day recently and saw that the trash can that was normally attached to a parking sign at Major Street and Kelly Street was now gone.
The trash can was well-used, according to Teleske, because there are a lot of dog walkers in the neighbourhood and businesses nearby.
“It was almost always overflowing, as are the other trash cans in my neighbourhood … The absence of this trash can will only mean more litter on the streets.”
Teleske was so annoyed he wrote the city demanding an answer to why it would remove something so useful.
He got an email back from Jonathan Marcone, supervisor, parks and open space maintenance for the City of New Westminster, saying Teleske’s efforts to care for his area were truly appreciated, but that the can was removed due to “illegal dumping.”
In particular, the email pointed out how people out walking their dogs are supposed to bag up the excrement and take it all the way home – not just put it in a trash can. Other illegal dumping cited by Marcone included household and commercial garbage, and the can was overflowing too often.
“At times it would overflow the same day that we emptied it,” Marcone said in his email. “Unfortunately more garbage cans do not lead to less garbage - it turns out the opposite is true in most cases.”
The city has assured Teleske that it is monitoring the situation and has seen an “overall reduction in litter accumulation.”
The response makes sense, but Teleske remains unmoved. He thinks the trash can was too much of a benefit to remove. He also understands why dog walkers don’t want to cart a bag of poop around with them.
On that last point, Teleske and I disagree. If you have taken the time to ensure you have plastic bags with you, and have bagged up your dog’s business, then suck it up and take the bag another few minutes to your home and dispose of it there.
That’s where it belongs.
Otherwise, it forces the city to do what it did to Teleske’s neighbourhood by removing the trash can.
Sure, losing one trash can might seem to be a small thing, but to a self-described “clean freak” it makes a big difference.
Follow Record editor Chris Campbell @shinbox44