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September 23, 2018 September 23, 2018

Giving downtown a Clean Sweep

Posted on August 3, 2016 by J.W. Schnarr
People who visit the downtown core of the City of Lethbridge might be surprised at how clean it is, especially compared to other cities. That’s because the city, with help from the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone, runs the Clean Sweep program — providing an opportunity for vulnerable people in the city to earn some money while they are getting on their feet, and providing a safe, clean downtown environment in the process. The Clean Sweep program has been going on for nearly a decade. For the past six years, Downtown Lethbridge BRZ has been directly involved, along with the Heart of Our City committee and Social Housing in Action. Funding and direction of the program comes from the city, but the BRZ manages the program on a fee-for-service agreement. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for vulnerable residents struggling with chronic homelessness, unemployment, or addiction. “These are individuals who need support and help getting back into a regular part of society,” said Ted Stilson, executive director for the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ. Participants in Clean Sweep need to have been referred from HomeBASE, part of Social Housing in Action dealing with housing first strategies. “That’s the place where they get all the social services they require,” said Stilson. Clients participating in Clean Sweep have to be at work by 6 a.m. and work for 2-3 hours per day. Work is done early in the morning so that it can be finished before business owners and customers begin showing up in the downtown core. There are generally about 15 clients involved in the Clean Sweep program, and between six and eight working downtown on any given day. Workers are rotated on a regular basis. Needed equipment, including gloves and jackets should they be required, are provided through the program. Workers keep curbs and streets clean, and plant and care for flowers in the 28 brick planters and five barrel planters located in the downtown core. In the fall, they remove leaves. In the winter, snow. They are also responsible for cleaning stains and other unsightly marks from streets and sidewalks, as well as cleaning off graffiti when they spot it. Workers are paid a stipend of $10 per hour. Stilson said the work also grants a daily activity and a number of community connections to help them succeed. “We’re providing a much-needed hand up, not a hand out,” Stilson said. He noted workers also have opportunities to get help putting resumes together as well as assistance finding jobs. Stilson said there have been some discussions about increasing the stipend to meet minimum wage standards set by the province, but the program is considered to be a temporary stop for workers on their way to regular employment in the community. As it is now, minimum wage employment would be seen as a step up in pay as well as responsibility. “We want to make sure that they don’t get settled in and comfortable with that,” he said. “We want to really move them into employment.” The program has proven to be a good stepping stone. Stilson said they have had clients who spent time with Clean Sweep who then moved on to find employment in the community. “They take a lot of pride in what they are doing,” said Stilson. “This gives them some place to go on a day-to-day basis that is meaningful. It gives them something to do with their lives.” Stilson said people who spend time in the downtown core may not realize how much work is being done through the program, and how much it benefits everyone’s lives — the clients, the business owners, and the customers themselves. “I think it’s a win-win-win situation,” he said. “We’re keeping our public areas and sidewalks clean and safe. If you are removing ice and those things in the winter, it keeps pedestrians safe.” Safety is also gained simply by keeping the streets clean. The broken windows theory is the idea that by taking care of small crimes (litter and graffiti), an environment of safety and order is created which will encourage the prevention of larger crimes. “If something is run down, and there is graffiti and tags all over the place, then it opens the door for a negative element in the community,” said Stilson. “Having a clean downtown leads to a safer downtown.” For more information on the Clean Sweep program, contact Ted Stilson at the Downtown BRZ.

People who visit the downtown core of the City of Lethbridge might be surprised at how clean it is, especially compared to other cities.
That’s because the city, with help from the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone, runs the Clean Sweep program — providing an opportunity for vulnerable people in the city to earn some money while they are getting on their feet, and providing a safe, clean downtown environment in the process.
The Clean Sweep program has been going on for nearly a decade. For the past six years, Downtown Lethbridge BRZ has been directly involved, along with the Heart of Our City committee and Social Housing in Action.
Funding and direction of the program comes from the city, but the BRZ manages the program on a fee-for-service agreement.
The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for vulnerable residents struggling with chronic homelessness, unemployment, or addiction.
“These are individuals who need support and help getting back into a regular part of society,” said Ted Stilson, executive director for the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ.
Participants in Clean Sweep need to have been referred from HomeBASE, part of Social Housing in Action dealing with housing first strategies.
“That’s the place where they get all the social services they require,” said Stilson.
Clients participating in Clean Sweep have to be at work by 6 a.m. and work for 2-3 hours per day. Work is done early in the morning so that it can be finished before business owners and customers begin showing up in the downtown core.
There are generally about 15 clients involved in the Clean Sweep program, and between six and eight working downtown on any given day. Workers are rotated on a regular basis. Needed equipment, including gloves and jackets should they be required, are provided through the program.
Workers keep curbs and streets clean, and plant and care for flowers in the 28 brick planters and five barrel planters located in the downtown core. In the fall, they remove leaves. In the winter, snow. They are also responsible for cleaning stains and other unsightly marks from streets and sidewalks, as well as cleaning off graffiti when they spot it.
Workers are paid a stipend of $10 per hour. Stilson said the work also grants a daily activity and a number of community connections to help them succeed.
“We’re providing a much-needed hand up, not a hand out,” Stilson said. He noted workers also have opportunities to get help putting resumes together as well as assistance finding jobs.
Stilson said there have been some discussions about increasing the stipend to meet minimum wage standards set by the province, but the program is considered to be a temporary stop for workers on their way to regular employment in the community.
As it is now, minimum wage employment would be seen as a step up in pay as well as responsibility.
“We want to make sure that they don’t get settled in and comfortable with that,” he said. “We want to really move them into employment.”
The program has proven to be a good stepping stone. Stilson said they have had clients who spent time with Clean Sweep who then moved on to find employment in the community.
“They take a lot of pride in what they are doing,” said Stilson.
“This gives them some place to go on a day-to-day basis that is meaningful. It gives them something to do with their lives.”
Stilson said people who spend time in the downtown core may not realize how much work is being done through the program, and how much it benefits everyone’s lives — the clients, the business owners, and the customers themselves.
“I think it’s a win-win-win situation,” he said. “We’re keeping our public areas and sidewalks clean and safe. If you are removing ice and those things in the winter, it keeps pedestrians safe.”
Safety is also gained simply by keeping the streets clean. The broken windows theory is the idea that by taking care of small crimes (litter and graffiti), an environment of safety and order is created which will encourage the prevention of larger crimes.
“If something is run down, and there is graffiti and tags all over the place, then it opens the door for a negative element in the community,” said Stilson. “Having a clean downtown leads to a safer downtown.”
For more information on the Clean Sweep program, contact Ted Stilson at the Downtown BRZ.

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