A program which employs people with lived experience of homelessness or substance use to help clean city streets has expanded its reach from its origins on the North Shore to other Kamloops corridors.
Jeremy Heighton, executive director for the North Shore Business Improvement Association, which partnered with other agencies to launch the Clean Team, provided an update on the project for a group gathered Wednesday to discuss a survey on the impacts of social issues.
Heighton said he hopes the Clean Team will continue to grow.
“We work downtown and the North Shore right now, we split our team's time between the two commercial centres, and every once in a while we pop up to Valleyview,” Heighton said.
“We were there about 10 days ago doing a major sweep through the area.”
He noted work is underway to establish a business improvement association in Valleyview, and when the BIA is operational, he hopes the Clean Team, along with the red-shirted Customer Care and Patrol Team, will be expanded to fully include that corridor.
"Then we'll start working hopefully up in the Sahali area as well to make sure that we have a comprehensive program across the city,” Heighton said.
The Clean Team is offered through a partnership between the NSBIA, a number of local social agencies, the city, and the province.
“It's actually a hugely collaborative project and a very, very challenging project,” Heighton said.
“It's not a social agency doing social work, it is a community driven organization, employing people in the social realm to perform a function in our community.”
Heighton said there are six people and a supervisor currently employed to work for the Clean Team. People in the program are in housing or in some type of care, and benefit from the stability, self-confidence and work experience the team provides.
He said so far this year, as of Oct. 31, the team has cleaned up nearly 13,400 pounds of trash from the downtown and North Shore neighbourhoods, and removed more than 5,400 harm prevention items off the streets.
The group has recovered 141 shopping carts, valued at $800 a piece, and disposed of 1,400 cardboard boxes.
Heighton said the team has removed 1,700 graffiti tags in the past six months — including a 12 foot by six foot racist graffiti tag discovered Wednesday on the side of a Tranquille business.
“This is a really strong solution that we're very proud of,” Heighton said, noting the team shows up and does the work.
“This creates collaboration between agency and between business and between community and really creates the pathway for benefit for everybody.”
In September, the City of Kamloops voted to add funding for the Clean Team to its provisional budget for next year, with some councillors lauding the service it provides to the community.