Unsightly weeds are not what people want to see hugging curbs and rising up through cracks in the sidewalks in their city.
Yet that is exactly what is happening throughout North Bay and critics say it does not make for a favourable first impression for visitors.
Trying to reverse the situation, a group of North Bay citizens and business owners used a weed-pulling event as a launch for Vision 2025.
The group’s website says it focuses on “tabling and discussing ideas that relate to making progressive and positive change in our community.”
“The point is to beautify our city by bringing businesses and citizens together because North Bay will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2025 and we want to give ourselves a five year period to beautify the city and maybe bring some community events and revive the city depending on the future,” said North Bay businessman and event organizer Alexandre Caron.
“Our first initiative is to bring together citizens and business owners to simply remove the weeds from our sidewalks.”
On Sunday morning, roughly a dozen people responded to the call for help to pull weeds, gathering at the North Bay Museum where they broke into teams before heading out to help rid the city of the ugly plants which are growing unchecked in many high traffic areas in the city.
The volunteers came prepared to roll up their sleeves and use some old-fashioned elbow grease to make a small dent in the problem.
“North Bay has gotten worse over the years and we need a collective effort from everyone to revive the City of North Bay,” Caron told the volunteers.
Caron says they received good feedback when the event was announced on Facebook and BayToday.
“The people were really positive about it. I think people have gotten to a point where they are tired of not seeing a lot of change. And they like to see this kind of event being created to try to bring North Bay back to the way it was years ago,” said Caron who expressed satisfaction with the turnout for this first event and did not discount organizing another similar event.
“We have been working on this pulling weeds program for the past month. We were planning on having maybe five to six teams, of two people minimum, spread out from Main Street West to the middle of the town. That said, the main arteries like Main and McIntyre Street should be taken care of and the middle of Algonquin Avenue as well,” Caron said.
“I knew the city was a beautiful city and I moved here about two years ago. I learned English and I founded my business and from there I always wanted to give back to the community and give back to the people so everything started from there.”
Volunteer Linda Buttigieg calls the weeds an “eyesore” and volunteered her time to do something about the weeds hugging curbs and rising up through the cracks in city sidewalks.
“It is disgraceful and it has just been getting worse over the past few years. The crabgrass is just everywhere,” she declared.
“I think the weeds have become a total eyesore, and I think when you’re surrounded by an eyesore, it drags down your spirit and even your will to look after things. It is just very depressing so when I saw this initiative was happening, I thought ‘Okay, I can either be disgusted by it or do something about it.’”
As an experienced gardener, Darlene Perron knows how harmful weeds can be to property and other plants.
“When I see the shape of a lot of our raised beds and streets in North Bay it just irritates me like crazy. I want to do something about this, and I saw this happening today and I said, ‘I want to be a part of that.’”
Tools and bucket in hand, Saylor-Rose Weaver made the clean-up a family affair. Together with her three children ages 9 to 13 she used the opportunity to show her youngsters the importance of having civic pride.
“It is important to me and I am trying to teach my family how to give back to the community. I want them to help the community they live in to be a little bit better,” Weaver explained.
“We come to the Farmers’ Market and my husband comments all the time that somebody should really go and pull the weeds and give it a few minutes of love. We don’t know what our city is doing about it. He saw the article on this group in BayToday and said this is something we can do to help, that we don’t need a lot of direction to go and do.”
Bringing North Bay back to its glory days goes beyond removing weeds.
“The situation is not only the weeds, but it is also the opioid crisis and a lot of other different things that are going on in the city that needs to be changed,” Caron stated.
“This is one of the things we will try to fix is the opioid crisis we have here in North Bay.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the organization or future events can follow Vision 2025 on Facebook.