Clean­ing up New Har­bour Bar­rens waste­land


Mer­riam Web­ster’s Dic­tio­nary de­fines lit­ter in sev­eral con­texts, in­clud­ing: (A) the mul­ti­ple birth of an­i­mals, (B) ma­te­rial used to ab­sorb the urine and fe­ces of an­i­mals and (C) Trash, wastepa­per or garbage ly­ing scat­tered about, an un­tidy ac­cu­mu­la­tion of ob­jects.

C is a very in­sight­ful de­scrip­tion of the mess that greeted 54 em­ploy­ees of New­found­land Power, their spouses and chil­dren Satur­day June 6. That was the day cho­sen to ex­er­cise our civic re­spon­si­bil­ity and at­tempt to un­der­take a road­side cleanup on the high­way com­monly re­ferred to as the New Har­bour Bar­rens.

For any­one not fa­mil­iar with the term, it is the ap­prox­i­mately 18-kilo­me­tre stretch of mostly bro­ken, sus­pen­sion break­ing, pave­ment run­ning be­tween Til­ton in Con­cep­tion Bay North and the Trin­ity shore high­way near New Har­bour.

This road­way was cho­sen to be the bene­fac­tor of our vol­un­teer ef­fort be­cause of the cen­tral lo­ca­tion be­tween our area of­fice in Carbonear and our district of­fice in Whit­bourne.

As with most suc­cess­ful un­der­tak­ings, it started with the in­spi­ra­tion of one per­son, San­dra Reynolds, who plants the seed of an idea, ger­mi­nates the seed with the rain of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and watches the plant grow into a large fully sup­ported vol­un­teer ef­fort by 54 civic minded in­di­vid­u­als.

On that day we har­vested the crop from the ditches of the New Har­bour Bar­rens road. Un­for­tu­nately the crop was over 200 garbage bags full of def­i­ni­tion (C) - Trash, wastepa­per and garbage. In ad­di­tion there were sev­eral truck­loads of mis­cel­la­neous items in­clud­ing tires, an au­to­mo­bile gas tank, chil­dren’s toys, pieces of car­pet, stove pipes, and the list goes on.

This was a 100 per cent vol­un­teer ef­fort on be­half of the em­ploy­ees of New­found­land Power. Not one per­son re­ceived any mon­e­tary com­pen­sa­tion for giv­ing up most of their day off on Satur­day. New­found­land Power fully sup­ported the ef­fort by pro­vid­ing pickup trucks for trash col­lec­tion, and or­ange safety vests. Lynn Prid­dle, one of the vol­un­teers, pre­pared a rough grub lunch of beans and bologna.

It was very re­ward­ing to see such an en­thu­si­as­tic group of peo­ple do­ing some­thing worth­while for the com­mu­nity.

Dur­ing a quick drive over this road much of this trash is not no­tice­able. How­ever when one stops and ven­tures into the ditches to get, as Bill Rowe once said, “a worms eye view”, it be­comes ap­par­ent that there is a lot of trash care­lessly thrown from pass­ing ve­hi­cles.

Why do peo­ple do this? I be­lieve New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans in gen­eral are very proud of their prov­ince, and most peo­ple tend to take very good care of their per­sonal prop­erty.

Yet it seems there is an at­ti­tude among a cer­tain group of so­ci­ety that seems to in­di­cate many peo­ple have the idea it’s okay to throw trash out the win­dow, as long as it’s not in my own back­yard. Hope­fully this at­ti­tude is preva­lent in a small mi­nor­ity.

Quite a bit of this trash was packaging from fast food out­lets and cof­fee shops. Some peo­ple would say th­ese busi­nesses should pay to have this stuff cleaned up. I dis­agree to­tally with that no­tion. I think it would be un­fair to ex­pect the busi­nesses to be re­spon­si­ble for the thought­less ac­tions of their cus­tomers. Even if that sug­ges­tion were ever im­ple­mented, the cost would un­doubt­edly be passed along to the con­sumer any­way. Do you re­ally want to pay more for your morn­ing dou­ble dou­ble or noon­time ham­burger to com­pen­sate the busi­ness for clean­ing up the garbage thrown out by the slob in the car be­hind you in the drive-thru? I think not.

What is needed is a change in at­ti­tude among many peo­ple. We have to make it so­cially un­ac­cept­able to lit­ter.

Just as smok­ing has be­come a no no to most of so­ci­ety we have to get the mes­sage out that lit­ter is de­stroy­ing our beau­ti­ful prov­ince. Tourism is a very im­por­tant in­dus­try to this prov­ince. We have to com­pete with many other des­ti­na­tions to at­tract vis­i­tors to the prov­ince. We may have great nat­u­ral scenery, but it can be greatly di­min­ished in value by in­dis­crim­i­nate lit­ter­ing.

Any­one who has ever vis­ited Prince Ed­ward Is­land would cer­tainly have no­ticed how clean ev­ery­thing is there. You would be hard pressed to find a gum wrap­per on the road­ways.

Un­for­tu­nately on this day we were un­able to clean the en­tire 18 kilo­me­tres of road­way. We es­ti­mate that about 75 per cent of the dis­tance was cleaned. At an­other time we will make an­other as­sault on the bar­rens. In the mean­time, lets all try to put lit­ter in its right­ful place, a garbage can.

Photo sub­mit­ted

Spouses and chil­dren joined New­found­land Power em­ploy­ees June 6 to help clean up New Har­bour Bar­rens.

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