Pitch-In ponderings

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by Robbie Giles

Sunday, May 5 was a beautiful day in Merrickville-Wolford. It was a great day to set out with neighbours, armed with our trusty “picker-uppers” and municipally provided garbage bags, on our annual clean-up of ditches.

The Spring temperatures, the good companionship, fresh air and exercise were all positive features of our two-hour efforts. Our undertaking, duly registered with the municipal office, was to clean-up in Phases 1,2 and 3 of Merrickville Estates. And so, we did!

When all was said and done, our arms and legs feeling the consequences of a self-inflicted 5 km walk, we had filled all four of our large garbage bags. This was, in fact, less than we had collected last year – and that’s, undoubtedly, a good thing.

Our take-away – beyond the garbage – includes some thoughts and suggestions regarding the annual Pitch-In initiative. This is a worthwhile activity, like the Merrickville Run, Jazz Fest and many other initiatives, that deserves the coordination and effort of an “organization”.

The engagement of school groups, developers and contractors, as well as neighbour groups would build civic pride and appreciation for the municipality. A great deal of the litter is known to blow out of trucks, particularly on the way to the dump. Most of the meal-related refuse is from chains in Smiths Falls and Kemptville, and can be found, in abundance, en route to construction sites. Surely, it is not too much to expect a contribution of resources, vehicles and personnel from those who actually leave much of the debris.

The timing of the Pitch-In initiative should be done in advance of the Merrickville Run. A clean H.F. McLean, Cty. Road 16, and Merrickville Estates circuit would certainly paint a more inviting image of the “Jewel of the Rideau” than the one presented in 2019. An organized, promoted campaign should, as with so many such initiatives, take into account the demographics of our municipality. Again, this year, we “retirees” have to go to the municipal office to sign out bags during “office hours”. The 60% plus of residents who do not work in Merrickville-Wolford are unable to access the Pitch-In bags because of their work schedules. Perhaps bags could be made available at the dump?

The construction habits of several contractors and their subs needs oversight and “by-law” enforcement. Our current “complaint based” approach to by-laws results in developer and builder inaction, and leads to the discouragement and frustration of residents when wind-blown house, wrap, and breakfast and lunch materials are left for months on end in our ditches.

Walking the ditches in our neighbourhoods provides real insights into who is drinking what, smoking which brands of cigarettes and cigars, and where they are shopping for a wide variety of products. These are things some of us would rather not know.

This said, it is a real joy to spend time with friends from the hood on a sunny warm day. We can only hope that each year sends us less and less trash so that we can enjoy the walk and avoid so much bending to pick up other people’s garbage.

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