Re­duce, reuse, re­cy­cle, re­ward

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

Any day now, some day soon, we ought to be able to put away the snow shov­els and parkas for another few months. When that glo­ri­ous day ar­rives, our at­ten­tion will shift to warm weather con­cerns, such as bug in­fes­ta­tions, pot­holes, wheel align­ment and that patch of lawn that never looks like the lush pas­ture pic­tured on the fer­til­izer con­tainer. Alas, one in­evitable rite of the sea­son is spring clean­ing. For­tu­nately, there are many con­sci­en­tious and en­er­getic cit­i­zens who, in ad­di­tion to beau­ti­fy­ing their own prop­er­ties, also clean up pub­lic land by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the week-long Pitch In cam­paigns. And, as ev­ery­one is painfully aware, there is am­ple de­bris in the coun­try­side to war­rant a clean-up bee ev­ery week.

Waste man­age­ment has made the news lately as North Glen­garry deals with an over­flow of ma­te­ri­als at its re­cy­cling cen­tre, which has been over­loaded with plas­tics since China be­came re­ally picky about the re­cy­clables it ac­cepts.

Mean­while, too many peo­ple are guilty of waste mismanagem­ent as large vol­umes of trash con­tinue to en­ter the re­cy­clable stream. As The

News re­ported April 4, about 4,300 tonnes of ma­te­ri­als are han­dled at the Re­cy­clage Alexandria Re­cy­cling Equipe (RARE) cen­tre ev­ery year. Of this vol­ume, 11 per cent is trash, garbage that is wrongly tossed into blue boxes and which must be separated from re­cy­clables at the RARE plant.

If you can judge a so­ci­ety by its trash, and the re­pul­sive and cu­ri­ous items folks as­sume are re­cy­clable, we can con­clude that there are many con­fused and dis­gust­ing peo­ple out there.

The re­cy­cling cri­sis has in turn led to a stricter en­force­ment of garbage bag lim­its. Home own­ers who put out more than two bags per week must buy tags for ad­di­tional bags, at a cost of $3 each.

With the crack­down, large fam­i­lies are left hold­ings bags, or are fork­ing out more money for garbage col­lec­tion ser­vice. That makes sense, and is fair un­der a user-pay sys­tem. But on the other end of the scale, one reader has men­tioned that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ought to give con­sid­er­a­tion, and com­pen­sa­tion, to the peo­ple who put out less than two bags per week.

If you live in a built-up area or a vil­lage, or have nosy neigh­bours, waste dis­posal op­tions can be lim­ited. You try to hide a piece of garbage in a blue box and you might not get in­vited to the next neigh­bour­hood bar­be­cue.

How­ever, in ru­ral ar­eas, where life is nat­u­rally more re­laxed and houses are sit­u­ated far­ther apart, there are am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­ple­ment fully in­te­grated on-site ma­te­rial sort­ing, re­duce en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­prints, lower garbage out­put and pro­duce some re­ally great com­post.

There’s noth­ing ne­far­i­ous go­ing on here, folks. The days of the prover­bial Back 40 dump, where ev­ery­thing “dis­ap­peared” among the weeds and cow car­casses, are long gone.

Yet, in the boonies, peo­ple who have wood­stoves and open spa­ces can re­spon­si­bly re­cy­cle and process ma­te­ri­als, with­out harm­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and with­out over­tax­ing our al­ready heav­ily bur­dened waste man­age­ment in­fra­struc­ture.

Thus, it would seem apt for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to in­tro­duce a recog­ni­tion pro­gram for those who, say, put out only one garbage bag a week. Re­duce, reuse, refuse and re­ward. Does that have a nice ring to it? Be­fore any­one gets ex­cited, re­mem­ber that this is just an idea be­ing tossed out. Yet, a “less is more” in­cen­tive would make for a re­ally nifty pro­posal in the con­text of a mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion cam­paign.

Granted, there are other, ap­par­ently more vi­tal, is­sues on the po­lit­i­cal agenda. North Glen­garry is still try­ing to deal with cer­tain fun­da­men­tal mat­ters, such as en­sur­ing ad­e­quate sewage and wa­ter ser­vices can be pro­vided in Alexandria and Maxville.

“Fluid” best de­scribes the sit­u­a­tion over the last few months at the NG town hall, where tax bill dis­crep­an­cies have not yet been of­fi­cially re­solved.

While the re­volv­ing door seems to have stopped spin­ning, there is still no word on an On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties that were no­ticed back in Jan­uary of 2017.

To re­cap: Since late 2017, North Glen­garry has dis­missed trea­surer An­nie Le­vac and tax col­lec­tor San­dra Cameron. CAO Daniel Gagnon has re­turned to El­liot Lake. Sarah Huskin­son, who was named deputytrea­surer and then trea­surer, was re­cently ap­pointed CAO.

Kim­berly Champigny, who has been work­ing in Red Deer, Al­berta, has been hired as the new trea­surer.

As of to­day, as far as we know, no other staff changes have taken place.

The ar­rival of a new fi­nance di­rec­tor from the other side of the coun­try com­pletes an over­haul of all of the money-han­dling po­si­tions. Ms. Champigny, who has been Ad­min­is­tra­tive and Ac­count­ing Su­per­vi­sor for the City of Red Deer Pub­lic Works De­part­ment, ob­vi­ously has the chops to over­see the books here. She is used to deal­ing with a $24 mil­lion an­nual op­er­at­ing bud­get in a city with a pop­u­la­tion of about 100,000.

As a bonus, she brings an out­sider’s im­par­tial per­spec­tive, a valu­able in­tan­gi­ble in a small town­ship where ev­ery­one knows, or is re­lated to, ev­ery­one else.

But while a sense of sta­bil­ity may be set­ting in at mu­nic­i­pal of­fices, there are nag­ging ques­tions about the tax ac­count er­rors, and the po­lice probe, and whether any charges will be laid.

Tax­pay­ers de­serve some sort of sig­nal that their money is be­ing han­dled re­spon­si­bly and that this year’s tax in­voices will be ac­cu­rate. When their is a void of in­for­ma­tion, the cav­ity is used filled with dark thoughts.

Mean­while, fa­mil­iar faces are run­ning in the cam­paign for mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil posts, and few new can­di­dates have come for­ward.

De­ci­sions by in­cum­bents mean that North Glen­garry will have a new mayor, a new deputy mayor and a new Maxville coun­cil­lor. Plus, the area will be rep­re­sented by a new trustee on the Up­per Canada District School Board now that Wendy MacPher­son has con­firmed that she will not seek re-elec­tion. But not sur­pris­ingly, there is lit­tle buzz about the fall elec­tions. Be­sides, we all have other pri­or­i­ties, es­pe­cially when the great out­doors and dead leaves beckon, and we be­gin fret­ting about the ul­tra­vi­o­let in­dex and not wind chill. - Richard Ma­honey [email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

Tax­pay­ers should be rec­og­nized for stay­ing below garbage bag limit. Let’s hope the re­volv­ing door has stopped spin­ning at town hall.

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