To the Editor:
This is a good news-bad news letter.
The good news: This month the City of Thompson held their annual spring clean up. Congrats to them, Oswald Sawh, Robin's Donuts, and all the players who make this work and help our city look much cleaner in one day. Spirit Way Inc. volunteers also participated. We had a group of about 10 people who cleaned up 56 bags of garbage along the Spirit Way path from the museum to Nelson Road. We ran into one couple who were gathering garbage to raise money to buy a bike for their Grade 1 child. We donated our bags to them, and Riley Moose was able to buy his daughter the bike that afternoon. His little girl was very excited!
Also, a big thank you to Ron Trainor. Ron has lived in Thompson forever, and helps pick up litter and work on landscape projects with us when we put out a public call. He's 70-plus years of age and still contributes. Above and beyond the call of duty.
Here's the bad news: In 1972 Twilla McDonald was a youth group leader whose team cleaned up piles of litter around Thompson. I still have those photos. At the time, we silk screened posters for a "Don't Litter" campaign. It's now 40 years later, and we are still cleaning up 600-plus bags of garbage in one area of town every spring. Have we not learned anything?
Look at the attached photo. That's the corner of Provincial Routes 391 and 280, the road to Split Lake and Gillam. Every weekend during the winter, I drive by on my way to Mystery Mountain, and I see garbage that people have thrown out their car window as they stop there. The next snowfall covers it up... out of sight out of mind. Now spring is here, and you can now see how much garbage there is. It's disgusting that people driving home can be so disrespectful of our pristine wilderness. This isn't a few people who did this. It is many. Would you throw your coffee cups, pizza boxes, or soiled diapers on your floor at home? Then, why would you throw it out the car window for someone else to clean up your mess? Did your kids in the car do this? Or the parents? It shows a total lack of respect and appreciation for our land and environment.
Over the past few decades, people have become more aware of climate change and environmental matters. Education and legislation has changed public behaviour to recycle, use seat belts and reduce public smoking. We are learning some things. Yet, when it comes to littering or spitting on our streets in Thompson, not much has changed in two generations.
I expect this letter will do little or nothing to change behaviour in Thompson. The city's clean up crew will do an admirable job all summer. The City of Thompson and LGD of Mystery Lake need to enforce their laws. Issue tickets for littering and spitting for the next 90 days and behaviours will change. Have city inspectors stand in front of Wal-Mart and Giant Tiger every Saturday for a few hours and issue tickets. Launch an anti-litter education campaign like the city had 20 years ago to teach respect and pride in our community.
Education and enforcement are badly needed. Until that happens, this mess will continue for another 40 years. And that would be a shame!