Family parks have become makeshift dumping grounds, irate residents are facing off against each other and tourists are thinking twice about the pristine place called Toronto as the most populous city in Canada enters into its second week of a stinky summertime strike.
About 24,000 inside and outside municipal workers walked off the job June 22, bringing garbage pickup to a halt and closing city-run daycares, parks and recreation programs, swimming pools and ferry service.
A key issue for workers is pay for unused sick days, a benefit the city said it can no longer afford.
Yesterday, residents had some reprieve from the pungent smell of rotting refuse as rain and cooler temperatures masked the stench.
But that didn’t calm the concerns of a furious community living across the street from a temporary dump site set up by the city west of the downtown core.
“It’s really stinky and there’s children everywhere and I have to sit through it and people are taking to it so easily. They’re just going there and dumping it,” said Sarah Beals, who lives near the basketball-court-turned-dumping-ground.
“It’s out of sight and out of mind,” she added, grimacing at the street lined with car loads full of people ready to toss their trash.
The location, Christie Pits Park, is blocks of grassy land, which is home to Little League games, walking paths and a swimming pool.
Residents have erected prominent, colourful signs declaring the area is “our park, not a dump,” and have confronted people pulling wagons filled with litter and driving pickup trucks stuffed with rotting rubbish.
“It smells and there are toxins released to keep the pests under control,” said Iris Haeussler, as she sat on her porch, watching people cart over their bulging bags.
She is concerned about the health hazards and upset that children on the street can’t use the green space.
Haeussler said she is embarrassed about the state of the streets and with visitors coming in from Switzerland next week, she is afraid they will be horrified by the mess.
“What they will experience is an awful, awful smell and stink,” said Haeussler, adding any tourist would be turned off by the stench.