Did you know we contract The Mustard Seed to help keep Whyte Ave clean?

Three members of the Old Strathcona Clean Team pose for a photo wearing orange vests, holding cleaning grabbers and blue bags

The Old Strathcona Clean Team is a partnership between the OSBA (that’s us), The Mustard Seed and the City of Edmonton’s Capital City Clean Up, making sure our city’s best main street shopping district always looks good.

In 2021, the team collected nearly 500 bags of trash, and swept up plenty of cigarette butts (please use the public ashtrays when you’re smoking!), and sanitized benches and seating in our expanded sidewalks and McIntyre Park (if it wasn’t too crowded). The crew also collects and safely disposes of any needles they find – more than 100 last year – and reports bylaw or repair issues to 311.

The Clean Team hires those who may be facing barriers to employment, offering them not just income but connecting them with employment coaches and community resources. Every month, 8-12 people were on the team, with up to another 17 helping out as part of The Mustard Seed’s casual labour program, offering work to those staying at or accessing services from southside shelters.

There’s often a rotation of team members month-to-month because the program and employment training allows folks to rebuild resumes and find new, more permanent, work.

The Mustard Seed’s Employment Program supports individuals who face barriers to market employment. The Old Strathcona Clean Team specifically has helped individuals with addictions, mental health challenges, unstable housing, and previous involvement with the justice system to earn income and take pride in the work that they do. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for our Employment Coaches to build trust and relationships so that they may support the participants in finding sustainable jobs.

Just a few highlights of success:

  • One Clean Team member staying at a Mustard Seed shelter began as a casual labourer, later taking on a regular crew position, and earned income and secured stable housing while moving toward long-term employment.
  • A crew member used the work to add experience to their resume and acquire job-related references. This helped them apply for other positions and receive multiple job offers.
  • Another worker covered their rent while working as part of the Clean Team and a Mustard Seed employment coach helped worked with them to reacquire safety tickets. After then updating their resume and applying for jobs, the individual returned to the skilled trade in which they were previously trained and employed.
A member of the Old Strathcona Clean Team in an orange vest sweeps Whyte Avenue while pulling a grey bin

One former crew member who is still thriving in their new position shared this testimonial about the Old Strathcona Clean Team and The Mustard Seed Employment Program:

“[It] has given me the opportunity to work with and learn from different people. The coaches showed by word and deed that showing up every day and striving to do your best will give you the skills that employers value. It has taught me that soft skills like communication are very important and can be improved upon. Because of the program, my confidence in who I am and what I can achieve has grown by leaps and bounds.”

This individual, along with The Mustard Seed and other participants, are very appreciative of the opportunity to contribute to the community and develop skills that will assist them in their long-term goals.

Whenever you spot members of the Old Strathcona Clean Team out and about, give them a wave and thank them for all their hard work.