City’s front line against 2010 garbage

The city's shock troops against filth: street, sewer and water workers on the afternoon shift ready for eight hours of litter clean-up in Vancouver, National Yard, Feb. 23, 2010, 2.30 p.m.

The city's front line against filth: street, sewer and water workers on the afternoon shift, ready to clean Vancouver's streets, National Yard, 2.30 p.m., Feb. 23.

One of the unsung triumphs of the 2010 Games has been the ability of city workers to keep streets clean when more than 100,000 people a day are crowding the downtown core.

The city’s media outlets began to acknowledge the achievement Saturday, when Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford contrasted the “river of vomit” she saw on her way home with the clean streets she experienced on the way back to work in the morning.

The clean-up work continues 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The afternoon shift is made up of about 180 city workers drawn from sewer, water and streets departments, who are ferried to locations around the downtown core to bag and stack garbage, which is accumulating at twice the regular rates.

Between 10 and midnight, an equally-large graveyard shift hits the streets to pick up the stockpiled litter while water trucks flush downtown lanes. The engineering department’s achievements occur under cover of darkness, but the results are obvious to all when the sun rises.

(Their efforts are back-stopped by special crews retained through Vancouver Coastal Health and United We Can.)

If street clean-up was an Olympic event, these folks would be gold medalists.