Clean Sweep Program is Paying Dividends
Places that are well maintained and clean not only raise property values and lower vacancy rates but they also create an inviting environment where people want to stop and spend time. It makes the statement that someone cares for this place, they are taking care of it and there is a sense of pride. This is very much the case in Downtown Lethbridge and it’s largely due to the efforts of the Clean Sweep Program who maintain a clean downtown for all to enjoy.
The Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) manages the very impactful Clean Sweep Program (CSP) which is a joint initiative between the BRZ, Social Housing in Action and the Heart of Our City Committee. The program seeks to make a positive contribution to Downtown Lethbridge, specifically related to maintaining a clean public space. The program provides individuals who are experiencing various levels of homelessness with the opportunity to participate in meaningful daily activities. This work goes a long way in helping build employment and financial literacy skills and supporting social inclusion while making a positive contribution to the community.
CSP clients receive a small stipend, training, clothing and a bagged lunch, courtesy of Canadian Mental Health and local businesses to perform a variety of tasks within the downtown early in the morning Monday to Friday. Their primary role is to clean streets/lanes in the summer, pick up leaves in the fall and clear snow from the public areas during the winter months while also offering pressure washing services and graffiti removal for private businesses in the downtown. With a combined effort between the CSP and the City’s graffiti removal program, you will be hard-pressed to find graffiti or tags in the downtown, and if you do, make sure to call the BRZ office and they will deploy CSP as soon as possible!
The role of CSP became even more prominent in 2018 for several reasons. First, they are now playing a critical role in addressing a major community issue as needle debris collection was added to their tasks and has expanded outside the downtown to provide service to the area around the supervised consumption site and other hotspots. Secondly, a partnership with the City’s Waste and Recycling Department saw CSP participate in a new leaf collection and composting initiative in the downtown. As a result, nearly 2,000 brown bags of leaves were diverted from the landfill this fall. In recognition of this, CSP was recently awarded the ‘Green Superhero Organization’ award from Environment Lethbridge. Finally, Lowe’s provided the CSP a Lowe’s Heroes grant for just under $6,000 in addition to staff skills and labor, which will go towards much needed upgrades to the sheds used for coffee/gathering space as well as equipment storage.
The CSP will be evolving their programs with the launch of ‘The Pallet Design Company’, which will see CSP clients employed in the design and construction of furniture and goods out of recycled pallets. This program will provide the next step in the employment spectrum assisting those with the transition to part-time or full-time employment. More information on this program will be shared in 2019.
Maintaining a clean environment is a cornerstone for the successful revitalization of downtown and the CSP is playing a critical role in helping achieve that. If you happen to be in the downtown before 8 a.m., be sure to take a moment to stop and thank these individuals for the positive contribution they are making to our downtown and congratulate them for a year of exciting achievements.
I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column and the BRZ’s #OurDowntown video series with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions by engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown and at www.getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.
* This column was published in the Lethbridge Herald on December 3, 2018.