Red Deer County is talking trash.
Dismayed at the amount of garbage piling up along county roads, the municipality has rolled out a couple of new initiatives to encourage residents to clean up their act.
“This year has seen an increase in the dumping and littering along county road allowances,” county director of operations Frank Peck told council Tuesday. “It’s been a prolific problem in Red Deer County.”
There have been other cleanup programs over the years. The Great Spring Clean-Up last year involved nine county communities and saw 800 bags of garbage collected. There is also a cleanup effort each year in Gasoline Alley.
This year, the county is looking at expanding the idea into a standalone program backed with $25,000 in the 2009 county budget.
The county will add an Adopt-A-Road program, an effort that has proven popular in other jurisdictions and which encourages residents and organizations to adopt a 3.2-km (two-mile) stretch of county road and undertake a garbage sweep at least four times a year.
The county will supply signs indicating who has adopted each stretch and will provide safety training, safety vests, garbage bags and free removal.
In return, volunteers are expected to make a three-year commitment and inform the county when they are cleaning up and keep a log of volunteers, hours worked and garbage collected.
The second effort will be called Mayor Kinsella’s 20-Minute Make Over, which encourages citizens and businesses to spend 20 minutes giving their area a clean sweep.
Peck said the county is also looking at ways to target litter bugs by encouraging people to provide tips, similar to the Report A Poacher program. The possibility of offering some kind of reward is also being considered.
“We’re hoping to roll it out by the end of May,” he said. “There’s got to be some way of curtailing the dumping that’s taking place.”
The county is getting increasingly frustrated with the amount of garbage, including items as big as kitchen appliances, couches and vehicle engines, that are discarded along road allowances.
Much of the trash is near the towns and villages throughout the county, said Mayor Earl Kinsella.
“We need to try and encourage more people to pick up the litter,” he said.
Not all of the litter found blowing around the country can be traced to litter bugs. Research conducted by Keep America Beautiful, a national U.S. effort, found 40 per cent of garbage is blown out of the backs of pickup trucks and from other unsecured loads. The rest of the garbage was dropped intentionally, often where other litter has already accumulated.