Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cleaning Up after Toronto's Caribana Parade

Scavengers spend Sunday morning sorting through the remains of Toronto’s Caribana parade.

On Sunday Aug 3rd at 9:30 am the entire west Toronto lake shore (a green space bisected by a bike path between Exhibition Stadium and Sunnyside Pavilion) was strewn with ALL MANNER of garbage! It was like the park had a 'hang over'; the desultory scene evidenced a wild party. Toronto’s Caribana revelers must have stayed late into the evening. And then in the morning an army of garbage pickers created a real mess as they overturned trash cans and combed through heaps of rubbish on a quest for recyclable beer and wine bottles.

Although the Caribana parade has struggled with its finances in the past, organizers believed this year's event would turn a profit – it must have. I know the island flavoured festival received increased funding this year because there were more sponsors – gun violence, and severe traffic jams due to critical lack of planning blemished the corporate politics of the previous Caribana parades.

Official reports are that tourists who come to Toronto for the gigantic celebration pump almost $300 million into the local economy. There sure do make a lot of unusual garbage.

Among the white shopping bags and Styrofoam containers, there were lots of crazy costume remnants and cool signage, unusual colored fabrics and sticks and broken lawn chairs. I saw an inflatable pool, a bent unicycle, and lots of single shoes and sandals - it must have been quite a party. You couldn't rent this stuff at a Toronto party rentals store... it had to come from home.

Black garbage bags filled with fried rice were split open and some of these bags looked like they’d been stepped on a thousand times – I'm sure a food tent had been erected in the vicinity.

Hundreds of green coconuts were lying open twenty feet away – this was no doubt the remains of an all natural fruit drink stand.

Farther up the path the lawn was absolutely overflowing with debris and the wind was pushing it everywhere – the nearby garbage cans had been turned on their sides. It’s quite obvious that scavengers picked through every single garbage can in their unquenchable thirst for recyclable beer and wine bottles. And I spotted a few stubbies and some questionable foreign beers that had been left behind by the experts.

Dumpdiggers would like you to imagine the Brock St. beer store, at 10:55 am on Sunday morning. That place must have been jammed with people returning thousands of beer and wine bottles.

This Toronto City Worker wouldn't stop to pose for photos. Apparently the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller specifically asked today’s clean-up crew not to allow themselves to be captured in photos or to make any comments to the media. I merely asked her about the different types of scavengers about, and I could see that see wanted to tell me something… I asked some more questions and came to learn there were indeed whole families here picking bottles a few hours earlier, and these were followed by a more degenerate sort who harvested food and other amenities.

Which brings us to Mr X.

At 9:45 am I ran into this hero – a wise old man with the metal detector.

Dumpdiggers hoped to celebrate the presence of this high tech smart guy and write about his wisdom in every detail, but that wasn’t going to happen – when he heard the words ‘Dumpdiggers’ and ‘blog’ he practically ran to his bicycle.

Here is the absolute smartest scavenger of the day, but he definitely didn’t want his picture taken or his story shared. He refused any insight into his genius.

So I can only imagine his routine. He carries a screwdriver as a simple probe and swings his coil over the chlorophyll, listening for the tell tale signs of a lost diamond earring or a gold ring. And coins; I’ll bet he finds lots of fresh nickels, dimes and quarters.

Here’s a question; would the device he’s carrying pick up the signal of a Canadian loonie? I don’t know. What are loonies made of again? I bet it would detect a toonie though as I'm sure that has nickel in it...? right? What are the exact metallurgical compositions of Canadian One and Two Dollar coins? Anybody - reply in the comment box. I wonder how much money he would make in pocket change alone? Dumpdiggers hopes this shy metal detectorist makes more money than the bottle pickers.


Jayne said...

Wow, what a massive clean up it sounds like!
Wouldn't it be better to have separate bins for recyclables, food waste, paper and plastic? That way scavengers wouldn't make such a mess and the city could arrange for the bottles to be collected during the night and pocket the money themselves, covering some of the outlay.
Hope the guy with the metal detector found some good stuff :)

Teena in Toronto said...

We could hear the festivities from our place! Whoohoo!