By Cecilia Nasmith
Two mayors stepped forward at this week's county council meeting to accept trophies for the Northumberland County 2019 Mayors' Keep The County Clean Challenge,
Warden John Logel accepted the participation trophy on behalf of Alnwick-Haldimand Township. At 7.3% of the population participating, it was followed by Hamilton Township's 6.1% and Cobourg's 4.3%.
Brighton Mayor Brian Ostrander accepted the hardest-workers trophy on behalf of his volunteers, who cleaned up an average of 30.5 kg. of waste per volunteer – followed distantly by Port Hope's 13.7 kg. per volunteer and Alnwick-Haldimand's 9.2 kg. per volunteer.
Reporting on this year's challenge, education and communications co-ordinator Dan Orr of Transportation, Waste and Facilities was delighted with the results.
The spring-time clean-up challenge was launched in April 2009, a week-long occasion for volunteers to pick up garbage and waste from ravines, parks and roadsides, with an appreciation barbecue to celebrate their work at Grafton's Material Recovery Facility. There is also a 20-Minute Makeover on the Friday of that week to encourage schools and businesses to take 20 minutes to spruce up the area where they work.
This week's challenge was April 21 to 27, with the 20-Minute Makeover April 26 and the barbecue April 27.
This year's barbecue took place on a cold, chilly day but, nevertheless, drew more than 500 people to share the food, take guided tours of the facility, inspect the Mighty Machines displays, enjoy live music by the Paddling Puppeteers, purchase blue boxes and composters, and win prizes and give-aways.
Orr thanked all the sponsors – Mill Valley Natural Spring Water and Ice for the bottled water, Pitch-In Canada for the garbage bags, Northumberland OPP for the officer and car, the Alnwick-Haldimand Township fire department for the fire fighters and trucks, the county's paramedics for the paramedics and ambulance, the county roads division or the operators and equipment, GFL for the waste and recycling collection truck and the county's EarlyON program for the staff and children's activities.
Alnwick-Haldimand has won the participation trophy for at least several years now, Orr said, but the overall participation is cause for celebration – the 2,989 volunteers who took part represent a record for this event. And perhaps the 19.5 tonnes of garbage collected may be less than the 26.2 collected in 2009, but it is 15% higher than what was collected in 2018.
Other important numbers Orr shared are the 11-year totals, with more than 23,280 volunteers collecting 186 tonnes of litter and illegal dumping. That's enough to fill 37,000 garbage bags which, if placed side by side, would stretch more than 17 km.
Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson could not resist a hint of sour grapes in extending his congratulations.
“It's a great program,” Sanderson said.
“The discrepancy, of course, is that the community with the most garbage has the best chance to win.”