By Jaymie L. White
Special to Wreckhouse Press
PORT AUX BASQUES — Come Home Year is weeks away, and the push is on for communities around the region to get ready for the influx of tourists to the province.
The Sou’Wes Newfoundland Delta Waterfowl has always done their part to keep habitats free of debris and garbage, however, they have been splitting their time cleaning up some of the areas that tourists will likely frequent this summer.
Mark Lomond said their most recent cleanup, which took place over the course of four hours on Sunday, May 22, yielded a significant amount of garbage in the spot behind the incubator mall, on Hopedale Avenue in the Grand Bay West industrial park.
The new town depot is in operation at the end of the cul-de-sac,and a new walking trail is under construction nearby. The spot also offers a water station for RVs and motorhomes and a spectacular view of the ocean. The previous council had debated installing an RV park at the spot to take advantage of these features.
“It was right at the end of the street, right next to the garbage cans. There were spots where you couldn’t see the ground because there was just so much trash,” said Lomond. “I was totally surprised. There was years’ worth of garbage there. There was garbage, like chip bags and pop bottles, that were so old that when we went to pick them up, they would crumble. They had labels falling off of them, just years’ worth of stuff there.”
Lomond said, despite their original goals, the organization couldn’t see areas like this remain in that state.
“We do focus on cleaning up habitats, but where we got the Come Home Year grant, we felt obligated that these areas should be taken care of. We couldn’t see it stay like that. There are a couple of spots we wanted to get but we didn’t because we spent days at the service road and up at the incubator mall,” said Lomond. “The particular areas we were at are places where tourists who come to the area are going to frequent, and we wanted to make sure the place looks presentable,that they don’t get the wrong impression about our area, and not only that, most of those plastics, with all of our wind and rain will eventually work its way into our streams and oceans.”
Even though the group did a major cleanup on Sunday, clearing out numerous bags of trash from an approximate 50 yard area, more garbage has already been left behind.
“There’s been more people back there eating takeout and threw their garbage all over the ground again. I would say there’s definitely an ongoing issue. The sign should include the penalties for getting caught littering there and there also should be a camera in the area, signs saying it is under surveillance, because if the risk of getting caught was a little bit higher, it probably would discourage a few more people.”
Lomond said that with garbage all over the ground already, people are even more likely to throw more garbage on top of it.
“I think there really should be someone out to get some of it cleaned up because people want to come home and enjoy themselves, and it’s a bad atmosphere when there’s garbage everywhere. People like to be comfortable in more pristine, nice environments, enjoying the beauty. Garbage takes away from the beauty of the place.”
Mayor Brian Button had high praise for the volunteers taking time out of their busy schedules to cleanup an area that has been a problem area for quite some time.
“I want to say a big hats off to this volunteer group that went out on the weekend. They did pick up a considerable amount of garbage which is disheartening in one sense. It’s great to see a group who goes out and does it, but it’s disheartening to know that we would throw this amount of garbage around and leave our areas in such a state,” said Button. “It seems like, over there, it becomes an area where people hang out, park, and it seems like, when they do they tend to leave a lot of their garbage, and I’m not saying everyone, but I am saying someone is leaving their garbage and throwing their garbage out.”
Button said that shortly after the Sou’Wes Delta Waterfowl clean-up was finished, he did hear about a group of people already leaving their trash behind.
“We provide garbage cans over there, and for some reason or an-other, they don’t use them. I’ve got to investigate to make sure we are emptying the garbage units on a timely basis to make sure there is room. But even if there’s no room, I wouldn’t use that as an excuse to say, ‘Well, I couldn’t put in the garbage because the garbage box was overfilled’. You do have a car that you’re over there in, and you can take it home and put it in your personal garbage, which we come and pick up for you weekly.”
Button said there is no excuse for people to litter.
“I don’t understand people, and I don’t understand people when I go right across this province, not only here. Why do we have to have a Tim Horton’s tea or coffee and when we’re finished, throw the cup out the window? It sits in a cupholder in your vehicle while you’re drinking it. When you stop that vehicle, why can’t you take it in and put it in the garbage? I just don’t understand it.”
Button said it is something that, as a community, has to be better addressed.
“We’ve been talking about the possibilities in some of those troubled areas, whether there’s ways to have video surveillance or cameras. We are trying to investigate some of those things and see if it’s cost effective and if we can do it, would it work? So some discussions have been had on that. We have been looking into those things as well.”
Button said another discussion will include the garbage cans in the area and whether or not they are emptied enough so as to prevent overstuffing that gets blown around by the wind.
“Over there now we have a larger presence. We have our own facilities now that have moved over in these areas, so we may be able to hopefully come up with something where we can get a better handle on what people are doing over there. It only takes catching a few people, the few bad apples, that are causing the problems and maybe help rectify it that way.”
Button said the majority of people do what they can do keep their community clean, but it is something that needs to continue, regardless of if it’s Come Home Year or not.
“We get a lot of tourists that travel in and out of our communities, and we need to have our communities, besides being friendly, we want to be a clean community,” said Button. “We do our part of trying to come up with ways of getting flowers out, ‘adopt a spot,’ and all those type of things. You’re trying to invest in the community to give it that spruced up look and that feel good look for the summer.”