As published in the Hamilton Spectator

“Hamilton is quickly becoming overrun with litter. Soon we will be known for more than our waterfalls. There used to be an unspoken sense of pride in our neighbourhoods. Property owners, whether residential or industrial, would keep properties clean. Now I see litter everywhere. Sadly a lot of it is city property, and no I don’t mean homeless encampments. On and off ramps, streets, parks and sidewalks. It’s everywhere. Some is from poorly packed blue bins allowing a gust of wind to carry it away. But much of it is just lack of civic pride and responsibility. Hamilton has litter pick up programs and bylaws. Where is the will to keep our city clean? I used to feel so much pride in how litter-free our country was. Not so much any more.”Martha Howat, Hamilton

This opinion letter in the January 12, 2024 Spectator caught my interest. Garbage, or rather getting rid of garbage has long been a passion and driving force of the work I do in the community. This problem was the reason that Beautiful Alleys was formed 10 years ago. This problem is the reason we are still doing it.

Much like the writer of that piece, I wonder how and why this happens. Unfortunately, I lean toward the lack of civic pride and responsibility. There’s an attitude of disrespect for public property, a lack of pride of ownership and stewardship. There’s a conscious effort to take the easy way, save those few steps to the garbage can, drop the garbage so you don’t have to carry it – even if you are walking right past a garbage bin! And then there’s my favourite – I pay taxes! It’s the City’s job!

We have a dedicated Waste Management staff working on solutions. Excessive dollars are spent on studies and surveys because some people are too lazy and inconsiderate to pick up their garbage!

There’s a sense of accomplishment and pride when you help. Ask any of our volunteers that come out for our semi-annual cleanups. And there is also a sense of disappointment when that area is covered with garbage a week later.

We fight for better parks and more greenspace but we can’t take care of what we have. Until we take responsibility we don’t deserve more.

I have long advocated for better waste management and we’ve made small improvements but perhaps I should be focusing on the source of the problem – our residents!

I’d love to hear opinions and solutions. Please email If you’d like to join our fight against garbage, join us on April 20, 2024. You can follow us on Beautiful Alleys | Facebook or visit our web site at

By Brenda Duke

Founder and Chair of Beautiful Alleys