Adopt a Road gets tossed amidst COVID fears

By William McGinn

Back in March when COVID-19 brought Kawartha Lakes to a standstill, one of the many programs put on hold was the Adopt a Road program — and it has remained suspended ever since.

Adopt a Road gets volunteers to collect litter to keep Kawartha Lakes clean and ecological, and the roads they work on receive installed signs commending their work. Program volunteers were able to bring collected waste to landfills without a tipping fee, but that small privilege is on hold.

The reason for the suspension, according to the city’s website, is precautions are being taken to “not further encourage outdoor gatherings.”

David Kerr, manager of environmental services at the city, emphasized this in an interview with the Advocate.

“Handling litter can add to the potential exposure and transmission of the virus. For example, used tissues.”

Over concerns the program’s suspension would allow garbage to pile up and linger, Kerr said the city encourages those who see roadside litter to notify them, and “Public Works will address cleanups in priority sequence.”

Since COVID-19, citizens are allowed to throw out three garbage bags per week.

Before the program shut down, the program already faced some complaints from those taking on the clean-up work. One issue was having to inconveniently reapply every year. Another was not being permitted to bring in furniture because of the possibility of saying it was from the side of the road but was really your own to avoid paying fees — indicating distrust between the city’s landfill sites and the program’s volunteers.

When Kerr was asked about these issues, he said Public Works usually addresses furniture litter, but the city would reconsider this for the future.

“A lot of our residents are inquiring about the program because they care about keeping Kawartha Lakes clean,” said Kerr, “and for that we are thankful.”

Though there is currently no planned resumption date, there are no plans for the program to be permanently suspended.

The Advocate reached out to other regions about their own Adopt a Road programs and found they, too, had been suspended.

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