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'It's a selfish thing;' Coquitlam's mayor urging people to do a better job keeping parks, spaces clean

Last Updated May 6, 2020 at 12:52 pm PDT

FILE: Discarded protective gloves are pictured on the street in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic is introducing a new type of litterbug as people are dropping gloves and masks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — After previously calling out people who carelessly tossed trash like gloves and masks, it appears litterbugs aren’t getting the message.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart says city staff continue to see more garbage strewn about, especially in parks and trails and sidewalks – and it’s more than they would normally see.

“The unique kind of garbage we’re getting now that we weren’t seeing a year ago is obviously gloves and masks, the kind of medical equipment that people are using to shield themselves from the coronavirus,” Stewart says.

RELATED ARTICLE: Throw used masks, gloves in trash: Coquitlam mayor

While he says most people are good at cleaning up after themselves, he’s incredibly frustrated he’s having to ask people to do their part and properly dispose of their garbage again.

“It’s obvious that some people are so frightened of the current pandemic and the realities of the coronavirus that they want to get these things off their hands as quickly as possible. And without thinking, they’ll take them off, drop them on the ground and then climb in their car. They’re taking them off wrong, so they’re contaminating their hands anyway. It’s a tremendously anti-social thing to do. It’s a selfish thing when you think something is contaminated, so you leave it for someone else,” he says.

While they’ve had discussions around big fines for discarding potentially contaminated equipment – to the tune of around $10,000 – Stewart says they really don’t want to go that route. Other options include allowing residents to pick up trash from trails and other spaces voluntarily.

“We’ll provide them with the picker-uppers so that they can, as they go walking in their neighbourhood, they can clean up. We already have a program called Adopt-a-Trail or Adopt-a-Street…but whether it’s through that process or through any other process, we really appreciate those folks that are being community minded.”

Ultimately, Stewart just wants people to be more considerate.

“Whether it’s our cigarette butts or our masks and gloves or our coffee cup, it’s incredibly frustrating and we’re better than that. Our community will get through this but we’re gonna do it by getting along and working with each other,” Stewart says.