On a warm summer’s morning, volunteers can be found quietly going about the task of cleaning up North Bay streets.
With perspiration running down their brow, their own only reward for this back-breaking job is the feeling of a job well done, and pride in knowing they have contributed to beautifying the city for all to enjoy.
The volunteers were giving of their time to Invasive Weeds Begone #2.
Roughly 100 volunteers were out last month weeding sidewalks and building fronts.
Debbie Clarke has been a volunteer with Clean, Green, Beautiful North Bay for the past two years.
“I walk around North Bay on the trails and the sidewalks and I’ve noticed a lot of garbage around, so when this initiative was brought forward, I signed up right away,” explained Clarke.
“I have two dogs and I am constantly picking up garbage on my walks every day. I just love to see all the cleanup that is being done and I want to be part of it.”
Volunteers tend to find tossed plastics, waste from fast food restaurants, discarded masks, and cigarette butts.
Clarke says she feels her contribution is making a positive impact.
“It makes a difference and it gives me joy to be able to walk around litter free in my neighbourhood.
As Chair of Clean Green Beautiful North Bay, Hariett Madigan is excited by the continued support she receives from people offering to lend a hand.
“It is fantastic. We’ve given out thousands of bags for litter pickups. And we’ve had way more volunteers, which tells me that we are changing the culture slowly. So we’re pretty happy with that result.”
Madigan expects a significant increase in the number of bags handed out and volunteers giving of their time next month.
“We haven’t had our community-wide blitz yet, and that is September 23rd to the 25th. We have 5-thousand bags handed out now and we’re really pleased with that number and you can see the difference in our city.”
On this Saturday morning, CGB North Bay partnered with Vision 2025 to make an impact on the Algonquin Avenue to Oak Street area of downtown.
“So today we had about 15 people come out and clean up another block. Weeds are like litter, they spoil the aesthetic of your community and if left long enough, it has an impact on your mental health,” said Madigan.
“The biggest thing is, we are going into Communities in Bloom for 2023 and the tidiness efforts include Litter Free, Weed Free which is the sidewalks and the boulevards and the buildings, and offensive graffiti.”
Terry Parolin was busy volunteering on behalf of Vision 2025.
“This whole block is basically what we accomplished today,” said Parolin, standing beside a wheelbarrow full of sand.
“Including trimming the trees at the end and taking care of all the weeds and sand and everything like that,” explained Parolin who can often be found out cleaning streets early in the morning.
“My thing is if you show how it can be done, lead the way so to speak, then other people will hopefully catch on,” said Parolin.
“I think this is a tremendous city. It is unbelievable and we need to take advantage of what we have.”
Vision 2025 is thinking ahead to the 100th anniversary in 2025.
“And things we could do to improve the city, towards that goal” explains Parolin about the group and its objectives.
“Detail is the first thing. On the city streets, we did the gardens, we’re working on that, anything to do with detail for starters. And then there’s small political things that need to be addressed and hopefully, with the new council it is something we can take forward.”
As Madigan points out, “It takes a whole community to make a community beautiful, and we all have to be part of that. There is a sense of belonging that goes along with that.”
Clean Green Beautiful North Bay is busy in other aspects, including going forward with a mural at the YMCA.
The group has also approached an artist to create a sculpture, the design of which is being kept under wraps.
“It is going to represent the heritage of our community, how North Bay got started. We’re hoping it is going to go to the waterfront. We’ve chosen three locations but PAAC (Public Art Advisory Committee) has to make the final decision,” shared Madigan.
“It is to honour arts and heritage. It is showing beauty where you would expect to see beauty. It is public art, and where there is public art there is usually an opportunity to gather as a community. The three areas that the Clean Green Beautiful Committee chose are at the waterfront for our very first sculpture. And we hope to move through the city and do more than that. It is going to be a little over eight feet high. It is representative of our railroad history.”
The goal is to get the sculpture in place in 2022
“We have to have municipal approval of the location, of the actual sculpture, but PAAC is the leading committee to help us get there. We have the money, so we want to move forward with that piece.”
The one major hurdle for getting this completed in 2022, is time given that a municipal election is right around the corner. So it may be that this will have to be a decision of the new City Council.
“We’re working as fast as we can, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” said Madigan.
For more information on Clean Green Beautiful North Bay, how to get bags, or to volunteer, simply go to [email protected]