Glen Grunwald's Board Blog

Archive of the blog of the former President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Litterbug On The Ropes?

Some people think that litter is not such a big deal. I disagree.

Whether you’re a tourist, a resident, a business owner or someone thinking about investing in Toronto, clean streets are one of those subtle things that help prove our city is a great place to live, work or invest.

There's lots of evidence that reducing litter helps an area to be more prosperous and even have lower crime rates.

So, results of the City’s latest litter audit, finding our streets are getting cleaner, is great news for all Torontonians.

It’s also a real tribute to the City staff who pick up 14 tonnes of street waste – 2,800 garbage bags full! – every day. Mayor Miller is right to credit both the City’s increased efforts and the better behaviour of Torontonians for the 40% drop in litter since 2002. I like to think our award-winning “Can The Litter” campaign has had something to do with it as well.

However, it is still costing Toronto taxpayers some 20 million dollars a year to have other people clean up our mess. That nasty species, the Toronto litterbug, may be becoming endangered, but it’s not yet extinct.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Youth ONE Revival

Six months ago, our Board of Trade set out to do something that has apparently never been done before – to try to lead the whole business community in reaching out to young people in vulnerable neighbourhoods. Our Youth ONE initiative officially expired last Friday, September 1, but the challenges facing these young people, and the impact on our city, are just too important. We can’t give up now.

So, we're announcing today that we're going to continue Youth ONE as an ongoing effort to encourage Toronto businesses to provide hope and opportunity to the youth who need it most.

We’ve learned a lot in these six months, including how generous the business community can be, how important a symbol of hope and open doors can be in the more depressed parts of our city, and how much education needs to be done about the plight of Toronto youth in those vulnerable areas. The most important thing for people to understand is that these young people are not ‘at risk’ – they are good kids in bad situations, they are equal citizens of Toronto, and they make great employees.

Young people who do not have all the advantages tend to deeply appreciate their opportunities. They bring just the kind of eager, gung-hot attitude that our Members are always saying they want in their employees. Every time a business connects with the City’s Youth Employment Partnerships (YEP) program to hire one of these qualified youth, that’s a victory. It’s another young person removed from temptation and frustration, and given hope and a way forward.

Whether employers contact YEP directly at 416 397 JOBS or go through our Youth ONE website, they are keeping the doors of opportunity open for Toronto youth and helping build up our neighbourhoods, one job at a time.