Help needed

The abrupt loss of the “Blue Box” service here last week, though well-publicized for several months prior to June 30, still clearly hit a nerve among Fort Frances residents.
On the plus side, that means more and more people are used to recycling—and have accepted programs like the “Blue Box” as one way all of us can help improve our environment.
The catch, unfortunately, is that while people want to recycle, and in fact towns with a population greater than 5,000 like Fort Frances are required by law to have a recycling program in place, no one seems willing to foot the bill.
The Northwest Ontario Recycle Association basically folded because district municipalities balked at paying the 70 percent jump in per capita fees that was implemented Jan. 1, partly to cover NORA’s mounting debt.
But there’s been little response to request for proposals for a replacement service—especially one that area towns can afford.
It’s not that Fort Frances hasn’t been trying. The town was one of the last municipalities to issue its intention to withdraw from NORA when the current contract expired June 30, and Operations and Facilities manager Pat Hickerson said he’s been spending “about all my days” looking for a new recycling pickup service.
So far, it’s all been for nought—and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change anytime soon. Which begs the question, given the vast geography of Northwestern Ontario, can a recycling program be cost-effective here? And if not, who should pay for it?
Residents—and industry—should be willing to pay more to have a recycling service here. People also must be willing to sort their recyclables beforehand, which makes them worth more.
But this is clearly a situation where the province must step in to help out—particularly since it is Queen’s Park that passed the law requiring towns of 5,000-plus to recycle.
Long-awaited legislation to create the Waste Diversion Organization finally has passed at Queen’s Park. While it came too late to save NORA, provincial funding is desperately needed now so Fort Frances can resume recycling—and quickly.