Neighbourhood volunteers launch the RoncyWorks campaign on Roncesvalles Avenue in Toronto.

The Roncy Sweeps gear up to launch the RoncyWorks campaign.

Right now the sun is shining and Roncesvalles is looking extra good. Today our volunteers put up posters and groomed the street as part of  our launch of  the RoncyWorks campaign.

Most of us know that our neighbourhood works best when we all pitch in. Our community seems to have an extraordinary volunteer culture and we hope everyone who lives here or visits our hood will catch the spirit.

Maria Carrusca understood this when she responded to a call for volunteers to help clean up the street last summer. Mary Wiens knew it and helped spread the joy, enlisting new Roncy Sweeps as she swept.  “It’s a funny thing, but it’s kind of addictive,” Mary says.  Duncan Kennedy and Tony Enns got it when they offered to create a brand for our community volunteer efforts. Now you can see their RoncyWorks posters displayed in some of the shop windows. And, our volunteers can now be spotted wearing the bright blue RoncyWorks bags.

You don’t have to be an official volunteer to make a difference. And you don’t have to be a clean freak. It’s simply about making an effort because you care about our little corner of the world. It’s about recognizing that it’s not simply up to others to care – the city workers, the BIA, our neighbours — it’s up to all of us.

So, if you spot some litter while you’re walking down the street; it take a just few seconds to pick it up and toss it where it belongs. If you’re at a TTC stop and you like plants, take a moment to tidy one of the plant beds while you are waiting for the streetcar.  Or, if there is something else you feel needs improving, think about how you can be part of the solution.

There are many ways to get involved in making our neighbourhood better. So, please pitch in, however you can. To get in touch with us about volunteer opportunities, visit

Sweeping teamwork

So  you’ve heard about the work of our Roncy Sweeps and you’d like to help out on a small section of the street close to where you live or work. Or perhaps you’d like to start your own initiative in your part of town. So, here’s how it works.

The17 blocks along Roncesvalles are split up into 8 sections. The lead volunteer for each section coordinates their efforts with the other volunteers on their team. The team takes care of both sides of the street, aiming to get out maybe once a week on a day between City cleanings, like on Tuesdays, Thursdays or on the weekend.

On the business sides of the street volunteers focus on cleaning the plant beds while business owners aim to keep the sidewalks looking good in front of their premises. On the residential side volunteers tidy up planting beds, pick up and dispose of some litter and recylables, and sweep up the sidewalks.

Brooms and gloves will be stored at 7 or 8 locations along Roncesvalles, to start with, so that volunteers can easily use these when it’s opportune for them to do a little sweeping. The lead volunteer for your section will tell you where the broom is stored.

We’re looking for additional volunteers to build up each team. There’s no set schedule. Each one does what they can, when they can. Just let us know which section you’d like to work on and we’ll connect you with the lead for that section. Our current lead volunteers by section include:

  1. Boustead to Howard: Ann
  2. Howard to Constance: Ed
  3. Constance to Geoffrey: Mary
  4. Geoffrey to Fermanagh: Maria
  5. Fermanagh to Fern: Tereza
  6. Fern to Galley: Dorothée
  7. Galley to Marion: Kirsten
  8. Marion to Queen: Jane

Learn more about Roncy Sweeps from these posts:

Clean Street: The mind, body and soul of how Roncesvalles is maintained

Roncesvalles Village is recognized as a successful trilogy of cooperation between the City of Toronto, the Roncesvalles Commercial BIA and the local citizens. We have the reputation of being trendy, without being pretentious, we care equally for our dearly departed Sister, as we do for our homeless and now, we have become known as the area who worked with City officials to improve common areas of foot, bike and vehicle traffic. We can boast that the streetscaping is laid out to further enhance Roncy’s delightful mixture of unique shops, casual chic dining and plentiful naturopathic services and holistic centres.

Information from our Councillor Gord Perk’s office,  states that;  Ron Nash from the City BIA, tells them that “the current status of Roncesvalles’ maintenance is much, much better than it was 10 years ago, but that, of course, doesn’t mean that it’s perfect.”

For 5 days a week from April 1st to November 1st:

  • Littervac operators clear the sidewalks and curbs of debris.
  • Street Sweepers (trucks) operate 4 to 5 times a week.
  • The fly squad surveys daily for manual pickup of bulky items and a manual walk about is provided every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the purpose of sweeping and litter collection.

During off season, the littervac and manual pickup is reduced and this service also fluctuates with weather conditions throughout the entire year.

In all fairness, The City of Toronto, as the governing brain with 44 municipal wards, 72 BIA’s, and about 2.5 million residents, is providing an adequate job. But, who knows the future of budget cutbacks?

The Body overseeing Roncesvalles’ commercial district is the local BIA.  An outstanding committee of business owners who rally together to promote the area, initiate events and encourage the local business members to participate in a collective. The BIA encourages owners to additionally tidy the street in front of their storefronts.  Unfortunately, group endeavors rely on equal contribution, and you’ll find that some businesses are very pro supportive, and others are less so.

Concluding the unity and without any doubt, it’s the soul of the people who motivate any action. It is the residents of Roncy who are saying loud and clear, “We’re proud of  our neighbourhood and we love living here!”   This collective pride has enticed the goodwill of the people who volunteer to be the change they want to see in the world… at least, our little part of the World!

Our increase in popularity brings many out to frequent our eateries and there may be a corresponding increase of on-the-street cigarette smoking. Cigarette butts are the number one offenders of our litter cast off.  Many a smoker’s impulse is to stomp out their butt on the ground or bury it into a planter. It’s a problem in cities everywhere. Fortunately the new trash cans have a cigarette disposal unit built in, but most smokers don’t know it’s there. Since this is not enough to curb the problem, there are talks about requesting City involvement that can also have community programs pitch in.

Right now what Roncesvalles needs is a coordinated cleaning program that supplements and supports the generous work of the Roncy Sweeps Team and what the City provides.  Awareness should be brought to issues such as proper cigarette butt disposal and on-street maintenance. With a little ingenuity and “pitching in,” Roncesvalles will continue to be the most perfect corner of Toronto!

Roncy Sweeps in The Star

Community resident sweeps a part of Roncesvalles as part of a volunteer effort to improve our street.

Roncy Sweeps volunteer and local resident Ann Chrichton-Harris. Photo Credit: Ellen Moorhouse

Yesterday the Toronto Star published a column by Ellen Moorhouse on our very own community volunteers who are taking to the streets to quietly clean it up.  See Trash Talk: A clean sweep for Roncesvalles. Our efforts are still in the pilot stage, so we can work out what’s needed to help keep our street looking great.

A few volunteers have been doing a regular or semi-regular  sweep on two or three blocks of Roncesvalles, not far from their homes.

You’ll notice those blocks that are getting some regular TLC because they look great! We will be storing our brooms and supplies at some of the shops along Roncesvalles. Our hope is that there will be one shop per block that can provide storage so our volunteers can do a quick sweep-up when they are passing by and have a few minutes to spare. We’re also aiming for one volunteer per block, since many hands makes for short work. It’s a great way to get to know the people who work and shop along a short stretch and improve our street while getting a little air. Let us know if you’d like to get involved.


Thanks to our volunteer street sweepers

On this Thanksgiving day, I want to openly thank the volunteers who care enough about our community that they are willing to help clean up the street. If you see them at work, please thank them yourselves.

A few months ago, during the official reopening of Roncesvalles which saw the return of the street cars, a local resident took it upon herself to start cleaning up part of the street. Maria’s voluntary effort caught the eye of our own Roncesvalles Renewed member, Mary Wiens, who figured that she would be willing to pitch in too.

It took only a few conversations before they discovered others willing to help out. Everyone agreed what a difference it would make if people from our community pitched in to pick up some litter.  Like the Earth Day Sweep, but more often.

The mechanical street sweepers don’t get it all and the City street cleaners only come around sporadically. In the meantime, litter piles up and what should be a lovely looking street, drifts into a a rather sorry looking state. It belies the spirit of this community that sincerely cares about its main street.

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