Trashy and ugly

Notwithstanding a bit of recent good news on the litter front, the volume of trash around Slave Lake can seem overwhelming. You definitely wouldn’t want to invite anybody to town right now – not if you care about their opinion. The ditches on either side of Hwy. 2 at the Main St. intersection are enough to turn most people off.
And whatever you do, don’t take your guests for a walk along the paved trail between downtown and the southeast part of town. Between the homeless hangout around the railway bridge, and the trash alley between the 7-11 store and Roland Michener School, it is ugly and getting worse. Speaking of the latter sorry spectacle, you can see what some kids like to eat for lunch, and roughly how long it takes them to eat it by the concentration of boxes, cups and wrappers lying around on that well-worn path between the 6th Ave. bridge and the Roland Michener fence. On one brief stop there last week we found 11 triangular boxes that must have contained pizza slices.
On a brighter note, eventually the grass will grow up and obscure some of it. Snow serves the same purpose in winter, so for several months of the year we can pretend it’s not such a big problem.
So if you’re inviting your parents-in-law for a visit from – say cottage country in Ontario – best to bring them in after dark, keep them inside while they’re here and leave in the middle of the night. Or give the grass a couple of months to grow. It’ll still be bad enough, but less discouraging.
While we’re on this topic, certain businesses in town do far too little to keep their premises free of litter. How bad is it? Bad enough that some people – probably not many, but at least a few – refuse to do any business there. It makes sense. Why go to a store with a filthy property when there’s another one that makes a bit of effort to keep it clean?
There obviously needs to be some leadership on this topic. Where is it going to come from?
Here’s a few suggestions: the Chamber of Commerce. The Town of Slave Lake. The M.D. of Lesser Slave River. The law enforcement people. The economic development people. The schools. The churches. Individual businesses and individual people.
Enforcement and education are part of the solution, but they can’t make the problem go away. Community organization can’t either, but it can sure improve the way things look out there, and right now it’s pretty bad.
What we’ll probably do is rely entirely on ‘Pitch-In Week.’ It’s a great community activity and long may it thrive. But it is never enough.
A fundamental shift in community behaviour would be nice, but probably isn’t going to happen. So what do we do, just sit back and accept that we live in a trashy community? Well, we could also get organized, raise some funds and hire a couple of people. Two people, working a few hours a week could make a huge dent in the problem. Another thing the authorities could do would be to exert some moral (or other) pressure on the worst offenders where they can be identified.
The same sort of pressure could be applied to schools. As noted above, a big part of the problem comes from kids going to and from fast-food joints at lunch time. A few well-placed trash cans might help. And if kids are simply too cool to use a garbage can when they are within sight of their peers? Well, they should damned well be required to get out there and pick up the garbage they are responsible for, as part of their schoolwork.
Or are we not allowed to expect that much of today’s students?

Share this post