It was February 2010 when a crew of five Boyle Street community members hit the streets to clean up a 30- square block area in Edmonton’s downtown. The crew has since grown to six to match the growth and development of Edmonton. Since its inception Downtown Proud! has operated consistently five-days-a-week, three hours a day in all kinds of weather for six years keeping the Edmonton downtown clean.
The Downtown Proud! garbage collection has grown to about 152,000 litres of litter and 5000 used needles a year. The crew has taken on a number of additional assignments, including litter clean up during MacEwan University and Norquest College’s welcome back to school events, Alberta Culture Days, and the Christmas Tree Light Up event sponsored by the Downtown Business Association. We also collect recyclable bottles from three condos in the downtown area and recently, Downtown Proud! has partnered with the City of Edmonton to provide garbage collection services in the hours following events at Rogers Arena.
Most importantly, we continue to work on our main objective: to expand our hours to full-time during the spring, summer and autumn months. City Council continues to commit $50,000 toward this effort, providing Downtown Proud! matched the funds from the business community; a goal that we have met every year.
But Downtown Proud! is first – and – foremost about the people who do the heavy lifting. One of our relatively new crew members recently sat down with his partner and realized that with their steady income through Downtown Proud! (about $221 per week) that they could actually afford an apartment. This means not staying in a shelter and now having a home. This was a moment of complete joy and relief.
A number of our original crew members still visit Boyle Street and take pride in the fact that they were the first Downtown Proud! crew. “I am a retired Downtown Proud! crew member!” has great meaning in our community.
These retirees consider the work that they do as a great accomplishment and our current crew members often discuss how meaningful the work is to them. This is especially the case when business owners and pedestrians offer words of encouragement to the crew as they do their work, even sometimes offering coffee and meals! This feedback is priceless and really adds to the sense of self-worth of our team.
Downtown Proud! actively reaches out to organizations across the city and has built numerous relationships. Most recently Downtown Proud! received a donation from ATB of $5000 which has help purchase shirts, hats and rain gear for our crew.
For more information on how you can partner with Downtown Proud! and help make Edmonton’s inner-city beautiful contact:
Downtown Proud! Supporters in 2016:
Capital City Clean-Up
Downtown Business Association
Edmonton Destination Hotels Downtown
Edmonton Public Library
Melcor Developments Ltd
ProCura Real Estate Service
Stanley A. Milner Library