Can we truly call ourselves ‘green’?

Across the district, at the boundaries of every community, signs are placed telling residents and visitors alike that they are passing through a “Safe Community.”
The designation came first from Safe Communities Canada, then the World Health Organization, and has been renewed regularly.
The signs say a lot about ourselves. Clearly, we value the care we provide to people of all ages, cultures, and abilities.
The district has developed educational programs to reduce crime and violence amongst young people. It has supported drug programs for people who have become dependent on both prescriptive drugs and illegal ones. We work to make our facilities and infrastructure barrier-free.
Through the efforts of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, many programs are now in place to assist older residents.
As a district, we can be very proud of our designation as a “Safe Community.”
We also like to promote our area as “clean, green, and safe.” After all, our lakes and rivers are pristine and we can safely play and enjoy them. Our fields and forests are lush green and the views are breathtaking.
But I sometimes wonder if we use the term “green” too loosely. The Town of Fort Frances offered area municipalities and First Nations the opportunity to have their “Blue Box” materials brought to Fort Frances and then forwarded on to a depot in Winnipeg.
The costs would be the same as Fort Frances currently pays, but most have not participated in the program. Only Emo and Rainy River took the Town of Fort Frances up on its offer.
Stewardship Ontario is encouraging municipalities to group together for collecting paper, packaging, plastics, and other items. The goal for the province is eventually to reach 80 percent recycle levels.
It is an achievable goal that will reduce our dependency on landfills and will reuse materials that historically have been discarded.
It appears that the smaller communities of the district are not as interested in looking after the environment and making their communities “green.”
In every school across the area, children learn from the earliest age that it is important to recycle. Yet when they return home, the value of recycling and looking after the environment seems to be forgotten by their parents, as well as their municipal/band councillors.
Ninety percent of Ontario residents say they recycle. It is the last 10 percent that are toughest to convert. Any municipality over 5,000 must participate while smaller municipal organizations can opt in or out.
The arguments for not recycling may be that the cost is too high. But are those governments ransoming the clean-up of their landfills to future generations?
It has been calculated that every Ontario resident is now putting more than 1,000 pounds of material into the landfills of the province each year.
And here in Rainy River District, can we truly market ourselves as “green” when the greatest proportion of governments choose not to be part of the “Blue Box” program?

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