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Push for tidier city starting to pay off

But more work to do, mayor says. 'If the streets look clean today, it's because of the rain we had Tuesday,' merchant maintains

 

JAMES MENNIE, The Gazette

Published: 4 hours ago

 

As far as Raffi Kotchounian is concerned, if the streets aren't paved with cigarette butts it isn't so much because of an act of city council as an act of God.

 

"I was walking down Ste. Catherine St. the Wednesday before the Grand Prix. The street was a mess - papers everywhere, garbage everywhere. ... It was filthy," Kotchounian said.

 

"If the streets look clean today, it's because of the rain we had on Tuesday," he added.

 

Kotchounian is the owner of the Vasco cigar store on Ste. Catherine east of Crescent St. He has been doing business on the street for 30 years. When it comes to assessing how clean - or not - the neighbourhood has become since Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and Ville Marie borough mayor Benoit Labonté declared separate wars on downtown litter, he gives credit where credit is due.

 

"I have to tell you, the cigarette butts weren't as bad as the flyers," he said, referring to the handbills handed out by various nightclubs and businesses to downtown pedestrians. "They were a real problem. But with the police cracking down, it made a big difference."

 

But Kotchounian's take on the big picture of downtown cleanliness is one that perceives the trash can as half empty rather than half full, presuming, of course, the trash can was even there to begin with.

 

"There was a trash can at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Crescent that was taken away during the riot after the Canadiens-Bruins game (on April 21).

 

"It still hasn't been replaced."

 

Last Tuesday, the city of Mont-real kicked off its annual cleanliness campaign with Marcel Tremblay, the executive committee member in charge of the operation, meeting members of the media on a street cleaning vehicle as he explained how 200 cleaning crew members would be deployed in the city's 19 boroughs.

 

That announcement was made a week after the downtown Ville Marie borough announced its own cleanliness crackdown, noting that more than $1 million in tickets were handed out last year. They were issued for infractions ranging from improperly recycling garbage to the lack of an ashtray outside a commercial establishment.

 

The cleanliness campaigns have been going on for three years. While their effectiveness remains a matter of dispute, a stroll through the quadrilateral formed by Ste. Catherine St., de Maisonneuve Blvd., Atwater Ave. and St. Laurent Blvd. suggests that something has changed.

 

Cigarette butts that could once be found by the score, piled at street corners or along sidewalks, were noticeable by their scarcity, popping up in ones or twos at the sidewalk's edge. City trash cans, once overflowing, had been cleaned and emptied, while the drifting paper, plastic bags and other lunchtime junk that seemed to be part of every summer breeze were absent.

 

Tremblay, who once berated a passerby who was littering while the mayor was in the middle of a cleanliness photo op, acknowledged yesterday there was still work to be done.

 

"Sometimes when I go up St. Laurent or St. Urbain, I'll see trash cans that are full. Perhaps we have to improve the logistics of emptying them," he said.

 

"And when I drive around the city, I have these portable ashtrays in my car, and when I see a citizen throw their cigarette butt out of their car window or on the sidewalk, I'll stop, and I hand them an ashtray.

 

"We're calling upon the civic duty of citizens, and it's starting to have a major impact. Mont-realers are proud. And they weren't proud to see that the city wasn't up to their standard.

 

"But we still have a lot of improvement to do," the mayor said.

 

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http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/story.html?id=fade8e50-eebb-4878-a41a-eecc8d1c4181

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I want a cleaner city. Heck I've even made strides to clean up this this...I'm even making sure that I spit out my chewing gums in the garbage rather than just spitting it onto the street/sidewalk like I used to before I was concious of our city's look.

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