Downtown Oshawa got a little face-lift this week.
The Safe City Oshawa Partnership, an advisory committee to Oshawa city council, organized the beautification effort, Communities with Brooms, that encouraged volunteers to pick up garbage downtown.
This event ties in with Pitch-In Week, which happened citywide in April, but chair of the committee, Paul Dobbs, says the downtown cleanup is just as important and that is the reason for a separate focus here.
“We want people to feel safe in their community, we want people to have that sense of pride in their downtown,” said Dobbs. “This is part of being able to take that to a very local level.”
“Not just the business owners, but the people who work downtown or the people who are visiting who want to volunteer to help clean up, it gives them a new vested interest in taking pride in it and taking care of it.”
Mayor John Henry and members of city council and the Downtown Oshawa Board of Management were there to get their hands dirty cleaning up as well. Henry welcomed and thanked the volunteers before bags and plastic gloves donated by the city were distributed to the groups of temporary street cleaners. Officers from the Durham Regional Police Department played a different role in people’s safety than their typical day job, helping with the cleanup as well.
Volunteers were also given maps of the area with a cell phone number to connect them to the John Howard Society’s sharps team if they encountered any needles or unsafe material to have them dispose of the problematic substances carefully. The non-profit social service agency assists the community with programs such as employment, counseling, housing issues and more. Their X-Change Project is a harm reduction program dedicated to protecting the public from contamination caused by poor disposal of infected items. The program also provides access to sterile needles, syringes and condoms, while providing information promoting safer injection drug use, and information on safer sex to individuals involved in at-risk activities.
Colin Carrie hosted a barbecue for volunteers after the clean up with entertainment from singer and Pickering High School alumnus Stephanie Davis.
For more information on the Communities with Brooms program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story and images by Nathan MacKinnon