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Mayor’s Column – June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016


During my traveling and working in several third world countries which I will not name, I noted a common practice in their method of dealing with solid waste. While noting their practice of disposing of paper, plastic, bottles, old vehicles, rubber boots, and just about anything else that they (as we) had used, abused, and worn out, I noted also a certain feeling of smugness – a pride in the knowledge that we do things better. This is Canada. This is British Columbia. This is the Peace River District. This is Chetwynd. We do things right – don’t we?

On reflection, I had to seriously repent of my superior attitude as the grubby, undecorated truth intruded itself into my pristine mind: we are not that much different. (Oh, yes, there are differences, as I will describe later.)

Solid waste: the euphemism for the junk we no longer want and are able to transfer to someone else’s custody where it’s out of our site and sight and we have done our environmental duty. No longer responsible for the stuff, we can sleep with clear and uncluttered consciences.

Some of us, that is. Others are a little more devious and a lot less scrupulous. They load their junk in the backs of pickups and carry it to some wide spot on a back road and dump it into the care of the wind and the rain where someone else will come along and stare at it in disgust.

This is about on the level of disposal I noted in the third world. Only there (and here I will explain the difference) governments do not have it within their capacity to pay for solid waste disposal as we do. The amount we pay to pick up garbage in the PRRD is equivalent to the entire operations budgets of many third world municipalities.

Shame on you back-road dumpsters! What’s in your minds? We have the best system possible to relieve you of your unwanted stuff. Why not use the system? Or is that the way you keep your houses and train your children?

Did you know that, in addition to the stuff clandestinely left to contaminate secluded retreats, we buried 58,921 tonnes of the stuff in our area landfills in 2015?

Did you know that one area landfill has been equipped with a gas collection system that resulted in a reduction of 1,842 tCO2 emissions last year?

Did you know that we have here in Chetwynd a very active recycling service? You did?

These are some of the services we provide for ourselves, at significant cost, to dispose of our solid waste. These are services that most third world countries cannot afford. That is the reason many of their streets and roads are littered with refuse. Is this what we want here?

I no longer look with superiority at a third world highway with its litter. I understand. It costs a bundle to dispose of garbage properly. Let’s use the services we have.


Merlin Nichols, Mayor