Clean Ottawa, Please




Councillor Keith Egli, chair of the city’s transportation committee, is fourth from the left.

Be part of the community-wide effort to clean the city, because company’s coming

photos courtesy of the City of Ottawa

Now that spring is truly here, it’s not just green shoots and crocuses we notice bursting from the soil. There’s always a bumper crop of litter too. In parks and parking lots, on street curbs, lawn edges and sidewalks, we’ll see wrappers, fast food containers, cigarette butts and flattened, pale blue water bottles that somehow hit the ground last fall and got buried under a carpet of white.

It’s not a good look.

No wonder people across the city are kicking into gear for the annual Cleaning the Capital campaign. Why not get in on the action? Families, neighbours, school communities, teams, clubs, dog walkers, businesses— everybody’s welcome and encouraged to take part.

It’s a local tradition that dates back to 1994. Since then, “We’ve had over a million people participate,” says Leslie Vanclief from the City of Ottawa. “It’s fantastic.” The positive response has been such that in 2006 a fall cleanup campaign was added and, in total, about 1.7 million kilograms of garbage have been collected over the years. “ ere have been over 17,000 individual projects,” Leslie adds.


Ready to take on a project of your own? Here’s how it works:

1 – Decide on the site for your litter-pickup or gra ti- removal project. For instance, you may want to clean the roadsides you see each day on the way to work or spruce up the neighbourhood park. From bus stops and shorelines to green spaces, there are lots of choices.

2 – Organize. Pick a time and a date, gather helpers (if you wish) and plan for proper disposal of the items you collect. Details are at 3-1-1 and

3 – Register the project. (This is important, as it allows organizers to distribute cleaning supplies, keep track of areas that have been cleaned, and recognize the work you’ve done.)

4 – Request a cleanup starter kit when you register. Choose one of 15 locations to pick up your kit, which will include supplies to collect litter or remove graffiti.

5 – Complete your project.

6 – Submit the online cleanup report.


The whole thing is easy. It’s also a great family undertaking or team-building activity, especially since the results are instant and rewarding.

Not only have projects been tackled right across the city, Leslie says, in past years participants have ranged from individuals to school groups of 1000. In fact, many schools, families and groups of neighbours get involved. Dog owners too. “A lot of people come back year after year,” she points out. “ They say, ‘ This is my way of giving back to the community.’ ”

There’s a lot of community pride. And this year, since people from around the world will be visiting for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, there’s extra reason to sign up for a project. “We really want to encourage people to help us keep Ottawa clean.”

See or call 3-1-1 for registration and details. ◆


Volunteers pitched in from the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation.

Now through May 15: Spring Cleaning the Capital campaign
May 15: Registration ends
May 31: Deadline to submit your online cleanup report. After you have finished your cleanup project, please submit your online cleanup report. Submit it by May 31 and your team will be entered in a draw to win prizes donated by our sponsors. You will need your registration code to access your cleanup report. 


The soccer ball and a stack of newspapers were among the unusual things pulled out of the creek during cleanup.

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