By Richard Bell
Several dozen people turned out for a community-driven meeting at the Porters Lake Community Centre about what could be done about the never-ending waves of litter blowing along the roads.
With HRM Councillor David Hendsbee and Eastern Shore MLA Kevin Murphy acting as informal chairs, there was a wide-ranging discussion about the scale of the problem, the frustration and annoyance, and the absence of effective legal remedies. One resident talked about picking up 4 large garbage bags of trash on West Petpeswick Road near Eastern Shore District High School, only to return a week later to pick 6 more. There were complaints about the ramps at Exits 19 and 20, West Porters Lake Road, Mines Road, and car pool parking lots.
What could be done? Fines range from $150 to $600, the highest in Atlantic Canada.
But the chances of being convicted and fined are very small. As RMCP Officer James Misner explained, you would have to be driving alone in front of an RCMP car when you threw your trash for a court to convict you. Even a bag of trash full of envelopes with an individual’s name on them would not be sufficient for a conviction.
Were Nova Scotians inherently more careless with their trash than elsewhere? Several participants pointed out that they saw almost no litter on their visits to Prince Edward Island, suggesting that PEI residents had some “pride” in their province’s appearance that was missing among Nova Scotians.
There were proposals for a serious anti-litter awareness campaign, like campaigns that people recalled from the past. The digital signboards in Lake Echo and Muquodoboit Harbour could carry anti-littering messages like “"Have pride in your community, please do not litter.” There could be more signs at the car pool parking lots, and at the Highway 107 ramps. Perhaps the courts could require people in restorative justice programs to provide community service by picking up litter in the communities in which their crimes were committed. Installing video cameras to record in high litter areas sounded attractive, but Officer Misner said night-time images were poor.
There were suggestions about putting an anti-littering program into elementary schools that would include teachers taking students out to pick up littler around the schools, in the hopes of building habits that would endure into adulthood.