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Butting out the butts

Litterbugs creeping along Jasper Avenue are going to start paying forthe mess they leave behind, as city officials prepare to slap massivefines on those who trash the downtown core.

Litterbugs creeping along Jasper Avenue are going to start paying for the mess they leave behind, as city officials prepare to slap massive fines on those who trash the downtown core.

“It has a pretty big effect on the city. It creates a dirty, untidy place that isn’t attractive to visitors. Toxic litter has an effect on the environment too,” said city complaints director John Wilson.

Peace officers will be handing out written warnings to those caught littering between 97 Street and 109 Street until Thursday. After that day, litterbugs will be given a no-questions-asked $250 ticket.

Ashtrays and litter caution signs already line Jasper Avenue, where smokers have been given handheld butt-stoppers in the latest education blitz.

Officials say hefty fining isn’t because people aren’t getting the message, moreover, to change the traditional social acceptability of flicking butts on the street.

“That’s a pretty mammoth task — it’s been an acceptable social norm for many years,” Wilson said. “It’s a pretty ambitious behaviour to change how people dispose of cigarette butts.”

Cigarette trash accounts for roughly one-third of the litter on Jasper Avenue, he added.

Capital City Cleanup block captain Ryan Jespersen says in the couple months he’s been talking trash and picking it up along Jasper and 102 and 103 Streets, he’s realized people are getting the message.

Though he and Wilson agree the fine may be harsh, education alone may not be enough for some.

“If you know you could get dinged, it’s probably going to make you think twice,” Jespersen said. “… It sounds like a message you’d deliver to kindergarten kids, but sometimes adults need to hear it too.”

The enforcement blitz wraps up Aug. 21.

 
 
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