By: Kirk Verner
As the first week of summer drifts through Toronto like a lost locomotive, my nose hairs tingle from the smell of rubble. Toronto’s trash is all bagged-up, with nowhere to go. Soon to be towering high over our heads, our trash will have to sit and decompose in our garages, alleys, and on our street corners until yet another city strike is settled.
As this strike rots its way into “Week 2” I decide to roam the streets in the city’s core, seeking the most unsightly of trash heaps.
I find a bus shelter that has been transformed into a wonderful compost pile. Equipped with blackened banana peels, mustard stained napkins, and more rodent droppings than you could find in any grain elevator, this inner-city glass shelter can now become an impeccable greenhouse…how innovative.
A short journey through the alleys of Chinatown reminds me of why I was warned to steer clear of this area of the city during this garbage strike. The smell of rancid sweet and sour ribs hovers in the air. The stench sticks to the graffiti that has been crudely spray-painted on the brick walls. Dead pigeons rest in peace and are clean of maggots due to the endless menu options for the squirming fly larva. The alley reminds me of photos I have seen illustrating the garbage dumps in Rio de Janeiro.
In my own garage, the problem worsens. Although horrid, the smell is not the concern. It is the sight of all I want to rid that really bothers me. It’s the garbage that reminds me of what I once loved, but now want nothing to do with. An old Playboy, the Farrah Fawcett issue, sits menacingly amidst plastic and Styrofoam; photos I will never again be able to look at due to her passing. A “Thriller” album I bought as a joke from a yard sale sits cracked and faded on the ever-growing pile a junk. A Michael Jackson bobble-head with the word “pedophile” finely painted across its chest frightens me every time I open the sliding door. Please take my garbage away!
The strike, I believe, should be a test for Canada’s largest city. Toronto needs to seriously start recycling more in order to tackle this heap of an environmental issue. Why is it always about money? At least a third of the ruin I come across resting on the city streets is most certainly recyclable. What are we going to do about it?
Toronto…a world-class city with third-world garbage issues!?