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The Clean Team

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oil King Stephane Legault shows the kind of litter his group collected in the Spruce Avenue community as part of Capital City Clean Up Wednesday, May 11, 2011. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
Armed with garbage bags, rubber gloves, and handy picker-upper sticks, a group of nearly 60 Edmonton Oilers staff, Inner City High students, Edmonton Oil Kings players, and various friends and family dispersed throughout Edmonton's Spruce Avenue neighbourhood on a warm Wednesday evening as part of Capital City Clean Up.


Although it was the third year the Oilers organized a spring clean up, this year's event was the first to be located in Spruce Avenue. This past winter, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation relocated its celebrated community project, Inner City High School, to a larger, newly-renovated facility in the neighbourhood.

"I think it's great that we get in touch with our community," event organizer Keely Brown said. "We've come into this community starting this past year, and we thought it was a fun opportunity to get out on the streets and see what it's like."

Inner City High enrollment is up since the move, and as proof of the school's dedication to its new community, nearly two dozen students and staff eagerly scoured the streets and enjoyed a complimentary post-clean-up BBQ generously provided by Rexall Place food provider DSS.

"I think it's important for the students of our school to build good connections with the community, just because of the stereotypes that we face being an inner city school and the difficulties we face in life," Inner City High student Jasmine said.

Also present at the good-spirited event was Don Belanger, Program Manager for Capital City Clean Up.

"This really demonstrates how the community can come together," he said. "Having these kids out here today, helping us with the Oilers, is really important in helping keep our community clean.

"It's been a long winter and we're out here on a beautiful day enjoying this warm weather, and with the warm weather comes all sorts of litter that was buried under the snow. These kids are going to be out walking the neighbourhood, picking up, and we think that's a great thing and we really appreciate it," Belanger added.

Capital City Clean Up is a comprehensive City of Edmonton program with 18 different initiatives residents can get involved in, including River Valley Clean Up, Schoolyard Clean Up, Adopt-a-Block, graffiti removal, safe needle collection, and the winter program Snow Angels.

"From our stand point, public education and community engagement are key to our success. Last year our litter audits showed we had a 29 per cent reduction in the amount of litter found on the ground, so we're making headway," Belanger explained.

"I know people get frustrated at the end of a winter and see all this garbage and litter on the ground, but really as time progresses, I think we are going to see behaviours change and people are going to start to recognize that it's our neighbourhood, it's our community, it's our city, and we need to be responsible for it."

Click here for more information on Capital City Clean Up and how to get involved.
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