Don’t leave it to district workers

Fall may bring bright splashes of yellow and red to the boulevards of the Lower Mainland...

Andrew Richard of the Royal Canadian Legion blows leaves into piles in front of the Legion Gardens building Tuesday afternoon.

Fall may bring bright splashes of yellow and red to the boulevards of the Lower Mainland, but those who wax eloquent about colourful fall leaves sound like halfwits to those responsible for raking them up.

The leaves have to come up before they get wet, slippery to walk on, and plastered to the sidewalks, creating stains on the pavement after they are scraped up.

The fall rains will wash them down to catch basins, where they work as effectively as sink plugs, creating deep pools on streets, and floods that can wash away sections of driveways.

A single mature maple tree, for which the district is named, can grow and shed an estimated 200,000 leaves each year, and Maple Ridge is blessed with more than its share of them.

Walter Oleschak, the district superintendent of roads, said the nice weather has kept leaves on the trees of Maple Ridge longer this fall, and as the temperature drops, so are the leaves.

“We’re right in the thick of it, right now,” he said. “Now they’re coming down all at once, and we’re going hard to keep up with it.”

District crews are blowing leaves off sidewalks in the downtown area, with the street sweeper following up to collect them. The sweeper is doing passes in the morning and afternoon to keep up with the sudden fall.

He said the municipality needs everyone to pitch in a little to help ensure that leaves don’t become a nuisance.

Oleschak notes that homeowners are expected to keep the sidewalk in front of their property free of leaves, and he asks that they also make sure that drains on their street stay clear. Sometimes, when there is flooding, municipal crews remove a single shovelful of leaves and the water is draining again.

In addition to the catch basins, there are also asphalt troughs around the community that direct storm water away from properties and into drains. These too can be rendered ineffective by leaves, and need to be kept clear.

“It’s sure helpful if homeowners do their part,” said Oleschak. “It’s widespread, on every street, and on a street where we’ve never had flooding issues, we could this year. We get a lot of flood calls.”

“If leaves are on their sidewalks, we ask people to clear it, as with snow removal.”

Exacerbating the problem for district crews are landscaping crews who conduct lawn maintenance around the community. Too often they use leaf blowers to send them off the properties they are working, and onto the roadways.

“You’re not supposed to do that,” said Oleschak. “They just don’t want to haul it away.”

Mature trees are carbon sinks – they purify the air, they buffer noise and they directly increase property values.

And they produce leaves, which from now until December will be falling and will be collected.

The municipality will load the street sweeper, and is creating a mountain of leaves at the former Cottonwood landfill site, where it is composted, and used in local parks.

• Residents can dump unlimited yard and garden waste, including leaves, at the transfer station at 10092 – 236th Street.

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