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Autumn’s essential street clearing


3 May 2020

The autumn colours are beautiful but the leaves dropping in streets can create messy havoc and block stormwater systems, so Citycare street sweeping teams have been on essential duty recently keeping local environments clear.

Late March to early August is obviously the busiest time of the year for street sweepers and their work continued uninterrupted by the national lockdown as the leaves kept on dropping irrespective of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With lots of people out walking in their neighbourhoods for their exercise and wellbeing during the lockdown, the work of these often invisible crews has been more noticeable, Environmental Services Manager Misty Soper said.

The work her team does to collect the leaves keeps residents safe while they are out and about on the neighbourhood footpaths as it reduces the risk of slips, trips and falls when foliage covers the walkways.

When rain events hit, such as a storm in Christchurch in the first week of the lockdown, the team can immediately respond to clear drains and remove fallen leaves to keep stormwater systems working. 

Misty’s team of 15 people based at the Milton Street depot clears the streets in Christchurch and Banks Peninsula, while other Citycare crews have been busy in Ashburton and Timaru.

In Christchurch, Misty’s team has five street sweeping heavy trucks operated by specialist drivers. Three people in the crew have 35-plus years of service in their roles, while another three staff have been working for Citycare for more than 10 years.

“Every street is swept over a six-week period and some are more frequent, weekly or fortnightly, depending on the trees in the neighbourhood,” Misty said.

One downside of the lockdown has been an increase in illegal street-side dumping which her team has had to dispose of, she said.

Furniture, household rubbish, bottles, mattresses and TVs have appeared at the kerbside while the rubbish dumps are closed.

Later in the year the street sweeping crews are also utilised alongside the road maintenance teams, sucking up the loose asphalt chips on the road surface when streets are resealed, Misty said.

The work is all part of connecting our communities by allowing people to safely move around their local communities.

The street sweepers are appreciating the extra attention and compliments from the public at the moment as they go about keeping the Christchurch streets clean and safe from fallen debris, she said.

facebook Linked Image Sweeper operator Sally Mangin2

Sweeper operator Sally Mangin at work in Christchurch.

facebook Linked Image Sweeper operator Ian Harris has been in his role for 38 years

Sweeper operator Ian Harris has been in his role for 38 years; sweeper on the roads of Christchurch.