Pilot Program Aims to Keep Cigarette Butts off Victoria Streets and Beaches

Surfrider Foundation, the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the City of Victoria are teaming up for a pilot program to keep cigarette butts off our streets, out of the stormwater system and off beaches. The goal is to install 20 easily identifiable cigarette disposal canisters in downtown Victoria, offering the public a responsible cigarette disposal option.

Six businesses have already volunteered to host these canisters. The goal is to have 20 canisters installed before World Oceans Day on June 8. Businesses that are interested in having a canister installed on their property can call Gillian Montgomery at 250.885.0464 or email chair@vancouverisland.surfrider.org.

Cigarette butts make up a large percentage of litter on city streets. Having cleaner streets is the most direct goal of this program, but the beaches will also benefit. The journey of cigarette butts from the streets, through the stormwater system and out to Victoria’s beaches isn’t top of mind for many people, but when the butts are blown or flushed into the over 5,700 catchbasins and storm drains throughout Victoria, the shoreline is where they end up. Beyond littering the beaches, the toxins in cigarettes leach out when wet and pose a threat to marine life.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) and the City of Victoria are sponsoring the purchase of the canisters and the DVBA’s Clean Team will empty the canisters as part of their daily rounds throughout the downtown. This pilot program has been led by members of the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. They saw the cigarette butt receptacles in use while attending a Surfrider conference in California and were inspired by how the simple program kept cigarette butts contained and off urban streets and beaches.

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