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October 18, 2014

Stonewall council candidates thoughts on the environment

     As we did four years ago, we sent out a questionnaire to prospective candidates for Stonewall Town Council.  The questionnaire contained some of the most popular issues brought up by our members, or by the community as a whole, to our executive.

     REACT sincerely thanks the candidates for taking time out of their respective campaigns to respond to our request.   As of Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 9:00 p.m., responses were received from Walter Badger (WB), Jeff Levesque (JL), Bruce Rutherford (BR) and Sandra Smith (SS).   Our questions and their respective responses follow:

1) The blue box recycling program in Stonewall allows for the collection of almost all packaging as recyclables, however many members of the community are still throwing these items away.  In addition, the more the Town recycles, the more it receives back from Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM).  As well, an excellent free recycling facility for items outside of the blue box program has been set up at Winfield Road Waste Transfer site.  Conversely, the more that residents throw waste into the general waste stream, the more we all end up paying.  What do you believe should be done to educate residents on the benefits of using these programs?

WB: Residents should be educated with warnings.
JL: I believe that we could provide more frequent notification to residents (in the form of electronic correspondence) listing recyclable items accepted in the blue box program as well as stressing the benefits of recycling. Perhaps council could support incentive programs such as random prizes for residences that recycle.  Larger covered bins would hold more volume and would keep the contents from blowing away. The public could be encouraged to view publications from other environmental organizations to gain a broader perspective of recycling issues.
BR: Firstly I believe that it starts with the youth (as they are our future) and the schools in Stonewall are doing an excellent job in helping educate them on the importance of being green.  I also believe advertising pays off as well. Just having the Blue Box program, and being visible helps people recognize that many are recycling and may encourage some more to be proactive as well.
SS: The first step could be to list the benefits of the programs under the "Resident Information" regarding garbage and recycling on the Town's website.  Other ways to educate the residents could be by way of print media, signage (if there isn't already) at the Transfer site, etc.

2) The Town and the RM of Rockwood have begun working together on setting up a 'one-stop shop' for recycling and responsible disposal of hazardous goods at the Winfield Road Waste Transfer site.  Up to this point, REACT has been able to acquire much of the funding for the capital start-up costs of the depot.  Moving forward, there may be a need to additional resources for operating costs.  Would you support financial contributions to the operation of a recycling / responsible disposal site in the RM of Rockwood?

WB:  Yes, I would support a shared service agreement with Rockwood and Rosser.
JL: I believe that the Town of Stonewall and the RM of Rockwood will have many opportunities to collaborate on projects of mutual interest. I would certainly consider recycling and the disposal of hazardous goods to be one such initiative. I believe that we all should share in the financial costs associated with these projects. Perhaps we can discover additional funding/grant programs that may be available to municipalities.
BR: I think this is a great idea and would support such an operation, however it would depend upon the amount of the additional costs (as that is always a factor) and being able to work with Rockwood (and their contribution)  in helping to make it viable and affordable.
SS: I would be open to considering financial contributions. 

3) A number of trees have been cut down over the years in many parts of town due to disease such as dutch elm or black knot.  It has been noticed by our members and citizens-at-large that these trees are often not being replaced by the Town, or are being slowly replaced by other community groups within town.  Some communities have created by-laws to commit to keeping their trees by stating that two new trees will be planted for each tree removed.  Knowing that community groups have been unable to keep up with the removal of trees, would you commit your support to ensuring that within a year's time, at least one new tree is planted and maintained by the Town for each tree  removed from Town property?

WB: We have to lobby the MB Government not to cut back on Dutch elm disease [funding]. I also support REACT in its tree planting.  I would support two trees for each lost.
JL: Yes, I would support the replacing of trees on town property as a responsibility of the town.  It is in all of our best interests to maintain our natural landscapes. 
BR: I believe Stonewall is one of the most beautiful towns in Manitoba and the many trees help make it that way. I would fully support any program of replacing at least one for one.
SS:  would support this initiative. 

4) Stonewall has a wonderful program for curbside leaf and grass composting; one that is the envy of many communities.  Curbside composting of kitchen waste is the next logical step.  The composting of kitchen waste further reduces the impact on our environment by reducing our reliance on our landfills.  Would you support the implementation of curbside composting of kitchen waste in Stonewall?

WB: Yes, the town should support curbside kitchen compost.It is done in Halifax.
JL: I would be very interested to learn more about how curbside composting has worked in other communities (community support and participation rates, costs, benefits etc.). I am supportive of the idea but would like more information. 
BR: As I compost myself already, I would certainly be behind the implementation of any additional composting programs.
SS: I do support curbside composting.  I would be interested to know if REACT has done any further investigation of this initiative and if so, I would like to hear more about it in order to determine whether it is a feasible next step for the Town. 

5) Stonewall is a great place for families, which has been evidenced by the strong growth in residential construction over the recent years.  One item that is missing from parts of our community is a network of sustainably (e.g. low energy or solar) lit sidewalks and paths.  Due to the lack of proper lighting, residents, particularly children and seniors, are forced to take a ride in a vehicle at night to get from point A to point B safely.  For the newer parts of town, what do you feel should be done to provide additional sidewalks or paths to connect to existing pathways?  For the older parts of town, what should be done to sustainably light the streets and railbed paths?

WB: Council continues to expand trails and sidewalks. I would like to have a marked lane along 12th West and 4th East.
JL: As a parent with young children, I am very concerned about the safety of our youth. I have been concerned with the lack of sidewalks in town which in turn leads to more kids moving about on the roads. I understand that there is a plan in place to increase the number of sidewalks in town. I am supportive of this and will be interested in examining this plan closer to ensure that it will meet the needs of our community.  I would be willing to work with REACT to explore options for sustainable lighting of our current and existing paths. I agree that the lack of lighting on these paths should be addressed and that the Town of Stonewall should consider this in its capital planning.
BR: I know the council has already been looking at some connecting sidewalks (in the newer area of town), as well as additional walkways elsewhere. At the forum two weeks ago I stated that there is a need for additional sidewalks in town. Proper lighting (perhaps solar where it could be affective) is important for both enjoyment as well as safety.
SS: Safety is a priority and as our Town continues to grow it will become a greater concern in both the newer and older parts of Town.  I believe a plan has been partially established to address those concerns (sidewalks, lighting, etc.) and I would encourage continuation and expansion of that plan, taking into consideration input by residents.

6Stonewall is blessed with a number of majestic old trees, as well as beautiful spring flowering trees, some of which were planted at the insistence of Mr. Samuel J. Jackson himself.  The past couple of harsh winters have taken their toll on trees in town; both by storm damage as well as severe damage by snow clearing equipment.  Unfortunately, the damage doesn't seems to get rectified in a timely fashion, causing disease and ultimately death in these trees.  What commitment would  you bring to the table in terms of the proper investment in  maintaining Stonewall's public trees and shrubs?

WB: Town employees need to work with care for trees. Also, please note my response to question 3.
JLWalking around Stonewall in the spring amongst the flowering trees is something I look forward to every year. These trees contribute greatly to the atmosphere of our town and add to the quality of life of the residents.  I am fully in support of the town maintaining trees and natural areas on public land.
BR:  I do agree the last couple of winters have been winters of extremes and have taken an unusual toll on our trees and shrubs in our community. This also puts an unusual toll any budget for replacing the loss. As I (at this time) do not have access to the cost I can only promise that I would be committed dealing with this issue in a timely fashion.
SS: I would do whatever I could to encourage the maintenance and replacements of public trees and shrubs. 

7)  The Ruby Roe Tall Grass Prairie, located just west of the hospital, represents one of the last pieces of native tall grass prairie in Canada, of which 99% has been lost to development.  Yet very few people in Stonewall know about this hidden gem and its significance.  What role do you think the Town should play in promoting it?

WB: The Tall Grass Prairie should be linked to the Town Website and the Interlake Tourist Association.
JL:  I would suggest that we list The Ruby Roe Tall Grass Prairie under the attractions section on the Town of Stonewall website.
BR:  I would suggest that all the schools in the division be given info about it and have their science teachers take a walk with their classes promoting its significance.
SS:  A few ideas:
  • the Town could list the Ruby Roe Tall Grass Prairie as a "destination site" on it's website.
  • the Interlake Tourism Association, of which the Town is a member of, could list it as a unique destination under our community profile.
  • include it as part of the planning considerations (setting up a tour) for all participants attending the Communities in Bloom Provincial Conference in 2016
8) Beyond your responses to the questions we have asked, what do YOU feel should be done by the Town of Stonewall to make the town a "greener" community? How would you propose to get this done?

WB: My support to REACT and the above questions is my commitment to keep Stonewall green. The recycling, composting, household hazardous waste and electronic waste needs a shared service agreement with Rockwood and Rosser.
JL:  We are fortunate to have the REACT organization working on behalf of moving environmental issues forward.  I would be very interested in learning more about your priorities and how the Stonewall Town Council could assist you in achieving those goals if I should be elected to serve in this capacity. I envision council and REACT working collaboratively on these issues.
BR:  Firstly I would have a member from council meet with REACT and get your input as to what you foresee as the challenges facing this community. You are the experts (not me) and I would truly seek your advise and then try to work together with you, the Town, and Rockwood to get things done, as we are all in this together.
SS:  The Town has taken significant steps over the last four years in working towards a "greener community".  In order to continue that progression, I would encourage expanding the partnership between the Town and REACT. 

 

 
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